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Senator calls for better mental health program in schools amid rising suicide rates 

STUDENTS of an elementary school in Marikina City, Metro Manila brave heavy rains on the second day of in-person classes on Oct. 25, 2022. — PHILIPPINE STAR/ WALTER BOLLOZOS

THE SENATE Basic Education Committee chair has flagged the government’s inadequate implementation of mental health programs, noting high cases of attempted and performed suicide among students.  

Citing data from the Department of Education (DepEd), Senator Sherwin T. Gatchalian said 404 learners died by suicide in 2021, while 2,147 made an attempt to end their life.   

According to the 2021 Young Adult Fertility and Sexuality Study, close to one in five Filipino youth aged 15 to 24 have at least considered ending their life.  

The percentage of suicide attempts in 2021 rose to 7.5% or almost 1.5 million youth from 3% or 574,000 in 2013.  

“In my own observation, our mental health program is incohesive and not holistic,” Mr. Gatchalian said in a statement on Sunday. “We need to institutionalize it and make it sustainable too.”  

DepEd records showed that only 16,557 out of the country’s 60,157 schools have guidance offices and only 21,837 schools have conducted mental health celebration and awareness programs.  

The senator said the country also needs 47,879 registered guidance counselors nationwide.  

The senator has filed the Basic Education Mental Health and Well-Being Promotion Act or Senate Bill 379, which will mandate the provision of mental health services, emotional, developmental and preventive programs, and other support services to learners, as well as teaching and non-teaching personnel. — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan

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