The government should conduct an in-depth assessment and comprehensive study on the state of mental health among students in the wake of a decline in mental health aggravated during the pandemic, Deputy Speaker and Las Pinas Rep. Camille Villar said.

Villar has filed House Resolution 900 urging the relevant state agencies to immediately intervene following studies and reports that suicide among students has been on the rise.

“There is a need to conduct an in-depth assessment of and comprehensive study by relevant government agencies—such as the Department of Health, Department of Education and the Philippine Statistics Authority—on the present state of mental health of the country’s education sector in particular and the overall population in general to address immediate needs in a bid to establish more mental health units in schools, hospitals, or rural health units, among other measures,” the House leader pointed out.

Aside from investing in mental health services, Villar said there is also an “urgent need to have a proactive effort to promote their mental health and well-being and prevent mental health disorders and improve the overall mental health access and therapist services in schools and communities to address the apparent mental health crisis in the education sector.”

Villar presented alarming findings by the Education department—more than 400 suicides happened in 2021-2022 academic year.

Of the country’s 28 million young learners in public schools, a total of 775,962 sought the assistance of guidance counselors during the period, with about 8,000 of those cases that involved bullying.

Two separate surveys conducted by the World Health Organization in 2015 and 2019 separately among teenage students already showed an uptick in suicidal thoughts among learners even before the pandemic. In the 2015 Global School-based Student Health Survey among Filipino children aged 13-17 or those typically on Grade 7 to fourth year, 11.6% of the respondents said they “seriously considered” attempting suicide during the 12 months before the survey, while 16.2 percent attempted suicide one or more times in
that period.

On the other hand, in the 2019 study, 23.1% of respondents have “seriously considered” attempting suicide while a slightly higher percentage of surveyed students—at 24.3%—attempted suicide “one or more times” during the 12 months before the survey. the percentage of students who said that they “did not have any close friends” also grew to 5.9% in 2019 from 4.3% in 2015.

Overall, 3.3% of the population or some 3.3 million Filipinos live with depression, and suicide mortality rate is 3.2 per 100,000 population.

Separate research by the University of the Philippines Population Institute indicated that close to 1.5 million young Filipinos had tried taking their own life in 2021, compared with 574,000 young people who tried ending their life in a 2013 study.

“The collective health of citizens greatly affects the success of their overall socio-economic development, as well as their access to education and other basic services,” Villar added.


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