2021-2022 suicide rate among Pinoy youth alarms party-list lawmaker

The Kabataan Party-list on Thursday urged President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. to declare a mental health emergency following a Department of Education (DepEd) report that a total of 404 youth students nationwide took their own lives while 2,147 others attempted suicide during Academic Year 2021-2022.

Kabataan Party-list Rep. Raoul Manuel said he is set to file a House resolution to urge the current administration to declare a mental health emergency, investigate the existing crisis, and expedite policies to address such crisis.

He said they would also closely monitor the implementation of DepEd’s Matatag Education Agenda that promises to ensure the provision of mental health services in every school.

“Crunching the data, there had been more than one student who fell victim to suicide per day, while roughly one student attempted to commit suicide every four hours in the past academic year. These are numbers we have never seen before,” said Manuel following DepEd’s statement during a recent hearing of the Senate Committee on Basic Education.

According to Manuel, the DepEd also revealed that the ratio of Mental Health Professionals to students is currently at 1:13,400, far from the ideal ratio of 1:500.

“In light of this, we urge authorities to declare a mental health emergency to give way for immediate and substantial government action to ramp up budget and support for mental health professionals and services. It’s also best for Congress to exercise its oversight powers to check the implementation of the Mental Health law so we can better address shortcomings,” added Manuel.

Mental health office

Meanwhile, with the goal of supporting the emotional, psychological and mental health needs of learners and teachers, the House has recently approved on third and final reading a bill that seeks to create a Mental Health and Well-being Office under DepEd in every school division throughout the country.

House Bill (HB) No. 6574 mandates the hiring and deployment of mental health professionals to public elementary and secondary schools, vocational institutions and offices in the central, regional, and school division governance levels of the DepEd within five years.

The bill was approved with an overwhelming 272 votes last Tuesday.

The authors of the bill said the proposed law will help students in the classroom and learning preparedness, especially learners identified as children in conflict with the law, students at risk of dropping out, learner-victims of violence against women and children, and learner-victims of other related forms of child abuse and criminal acts.

To ensure the efficient implementation of the proposed legislation, the bill requires the creation of sufficient Guidance Counselors and Guidance Services Specialist positions in accordance with minimum standards to be determined by the DepEd and the Department of Health (DOH), in coordination with the Civil Service Commission (CSC) and the Department of Budget and Management.

The school’s division level Mental Health and Well-being Office shall be headed by a qualified Mental Health Professional with the position of Guidance Services Specialist V (Salary Grade 24).

Under the bill, DepEd will also provide for sufficient resources for mental health programs and projects designed to maintain and address the mental health and well being of learners and personnel.

It also stresses that mental health professionals shall enjoy the rights and privileges provided for in the Magna Carta for Public Health Workers, Mental

The National Statistics Office, meanwhile, reported that mental health illnesses rank as the third most common form of morbidity among Filipinos in 2019.

The DOH said the Covid-19 pandemic has contributed to the growing mental health needs of Filipinos, adding that at least 3.6 million Filipinos are facing mental health issues during the pandemic.


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