DepEd should do more to stop student suicides, senators say
MANILA, Philippines — Senators on Wednesday urged the Department of Education (DepEd) to work more closely with groups providing mental health services to students and teachers on learning that 404 students committed suicide and 2,147 others tried to end their lives during the previous school year.
Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri also vowed to fight for a bigger allocation for the DepEd’s mental health program after Assistant Education Secretary Dexter Galban told senators there were only 2,093 guidance counselors helping some 28 million students in public elementary and high schools.
“The number of suicides by students is quite alarming,” Zubiri told the Inquirer.
“I’m hopeful that the plan of [Education] Secretary and Vice President Sara [Duterte] to hire more guidance counselors as well as retrain the existing ones… would be a big help to reach out to students in need of mental health support,” he added.
Sen. Juan Edgardo Angara, chair of the Senate finance committee, said Congress allocated more than P4 billion for the government’s various programs on mental health for 2023.
He said he also filed a measure mandating the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. to provide benefit packages for mental health services.
“This would help curb the increasing number of young people taking their lives,” Angara said.
Sen. Risa Hontiveros said the DepEd and the Department of Health should be proactive in implementing Republic Act No. 11036, or the Mental Health Act, which mandated the integration of mental health services in academic institutions.