A progressive youth group is calling on President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr to immediately declare a “mental health emergency” amid the rising number of student suicides.
Only on Monday did the Department of Education reveal that up to 404 students would die by suicide and 2,147 would attempt suicide in the year 2021.
“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 Kabataan party-list Rep. Raoul Manuel.
It was first reported that the current ratio of mental health professionals compared to students is 1:14,000, far from the ideal of 1:500 in the Philippines. That is equivalent to almost 2,000 guidance counselors for 28 million students.
In fact, its global ideal ratio should even be 1:250, explained DepEd Assistant Secretary Dexter Galban.
It is said that up to 775,000 students sought help from guidance services in 2021, representing 2.85% of the total student population. Despite this, Galban said that it may still be underreported due to the lack of councilors who can respond to the needs of students.
Mental health emergency urged due to increase in student suicides
“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,” said Manuel.
“Higit sa pagtugon sa mental health services, di natin maitatanggi na epekto rin ito ng higit dalawang taong pagsara ng mga paaralan at ang distance o hybrid learning modality na dumoble sa load at gastusin ng mga estudyante. In this regard, we also need a serious review and overhaul of education policies especially the K-12 while we ensure 100% face-to-face classes.”
In 2020, a study by the Philippine Statistics Authority showed that the number of suicide deaths in the country had gone up by 26% since 2019, which was a time when COVID-19 lockdowns were common and strict.
Manuel is set to file a resolution in the House to declare a mental health emergency while the situation is investigated and addressed.
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