REP. REYES ALARMED WITH 17% SCHOOLCHILDREN THINKING ABOUT ENDING THEIR LIFE, CALLS ON SENATE TO PASS COUNTERPART MEASURE ON MENTAL HEALTH BILL FOR SCHOOLS.
ANAKALUSUGAN Party-list Representative Ray Reyes was alarmed when the Department of Health (DOH) cited a 2021 study during the briefing of the House Committee on Welfare of Children on Monday that 17 percent of children and adolescents reported having thought of committing suicide.
The DOH report further enumerated that the suicide ideation number has risen from 597,000 in 2013 to 1.5 million kids in 2021, with only 7 percent of that number seeking help from their parents or guardians as opposed to 25 percent seeking advice from their peers.
“This is alarming. Our children spend most of their time learning to navigate life from what they learn at school. Their young minds are still in their formative years, and with the data showing that our children prefer seeking help from their friends than their guardians only show that professional help is much needed,” Rep. Reyes pointed out.
The Senate hearing earlier this month revealed that at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic more than four hundred students committed suicide, while over 2,000 attempted suicides in School Year 2021-2022 alone.
“It is incumbent upon us, lawmakers, to safeguard the mind and mental health of the young. I call for the immediate passage of policies towards the institutionalization of stronger and more comprehensive school-based mental health programs to ensure a more functional and more productive society in the coming years. As such, we call on the Senate to pass a counterpart bill seeking to strengthen the mental health services in schools,” Rep. Reyes said.
The Lower House already passed on third reading House Bill No. 06574 or the “Basic Education Mental Health and Well-Being Promotion Act” primarily authored by Pasig City District Representative Roman T. Romulo and co-authored by Rep. Reyes. The bill was transmitted to the Senate on February 1 this year.
It directs the Department of Education (DepEd) to recruit, train, and hire additional mental health professionals in all public schools and adequately address various mental, emotional, and developmental needs of students, teachers, and school personnels.
The measure likewise proposes the establishment of a Mental Health and Well-being Office in all school’s division offices and schools to cater to the needs of employees and learners. The office will then be headed by a qualified Mental Health Professional with a position of Guidance Services Specialist V.
“We must address the issues hounding the children who thinks about ending their lives. Our youth seem to run out of options because us adults have not made their mental health a priority,” Rep. Reyes concluded.