Senator further pushes for school-based mental health program

Senator further pushes for school-based mental health program
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SENATOR Sherwin Gatchalian has reiterated the need for the establishment of a school-based mental health program in light of the death of two female teenage students in Taguig City last week.

In a statement, Gatchalian expressed alarm over the mental health of the youth.

“I feel the greatest sense of urgency in combating the mental health crisis engulfing our schools,” he said.

“The Senate has already approved the Basic Education Mental Health and Well-Being Promotion Act (Senate Bill 2200) on third and final reading last September. Patuloy nating pagsisikapang maitaguyod ang kaligtasan at kapakanan ng mga mag-aaral pagdating sa usapin ng mental health (We continue to strive to promote the safety and well-being of students when it comes to mental health issues),” he added.

Gatchalian made the remark following the death of Mary Nicole Picar, 15, a Grade 10 student, and Irish Sheen Manalo, 13, a Grade 8 student, who were found hanging from a steel grill with a rope tied around their necks inside an office at the Signal Village National High School in Taguig City on Friday evening, November 10, 2023.

The Taguig police said that based on their initial investigation, there was no foul play involved.

Gatchalian urged authorities, as well as the Department of Education (DepEd) and the Taguig City Government to expedite the process and ensure accuracy in unraveling the circumstances surrounding the “tragedy.”

If passed into law, the school-based mental health program will be institutionalized to strengthen the existing mental health and guidance and counseling program aimed to ensure and promote mental health and well-being of learners.

Under the proposed measure, it is also mandatory for the DepEd and Department of Health (DOH) to establish and maintain a care center in every public basic education institutions and ensure their establishment and maintenance in private basic education institutions, to be operated by competent personnel, equipped with the necessary facilities, and supported with the required resource.

Based on the DOH estimate, there are over three million Filipinos facing mental health issues, including depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder.

The DepEd earlier said there were 404 incidents where students took their own lives, while 2,147 attempted to kill themselves in the school year 2021-2022 alone. (TPM/SunStar Philippines)

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