DepEd: Don't link recent suicides to issues on blended learning
Taguig Sanitation Office sprays a disinfectant solution at bus terminals and schools to contain the possible spreading of COVID-19.
The STAR/Edd Gumban
DepEd: Don't link recent suicides to issues on blended learning
Christian Deiparine ( - October 20, 2020 - 2:40pm

MANILA, Philippines—The education department on Tuesday said cases of suicide among teachers and students should not be directly linked to concerns over distance learning that began this year amid the coronavirus pandemic.

In a statement, the agency condoled with family members of those who died by suicide and vowed that it would continue its psychosocial services to teachers, staff and students. 

But it has also appealed for the public to avoid speculating on the cause of death among victims. 

"Suicide is a sensitive and complex issue," DepEd said. "We would like to appeal to everyone to stop directly connecting such to modules or distance learning."

DepEd said none had pointed to distance learning as the main reason for such, based on reports from police, statements from families and initial results of investigations. 

DepEd urged to address work-related stress

Such came after reports that a teacher in Leyte last week took her life after her two children were found to have contracted the coronavirus. 

The Alliance of Concerned Teachers had urged education officials to address work-related causes of stress among teachers "that are well within the control of the agency."

"This case demonstrates the magnitude of stress that our teachers endure at present," said Raymond Basilio, ACT's secretary general. "They too experience all the health and economic worries that the pandemic brought, while they bear all the problems that come with the ill-prepared and problematic distance learning program of DepEd."

Basilio added that psychosocial interventions would not be enough if factors causing mental stress are not really addressed. 

DepEd also sought to warn the public against groups and individuals who "use these unfortunate events" to discredit its efforts to push through with its blended learning.

Classes for over 24 million Filipino students began this October that saw a major shift from the traditional face-to-face classes due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Problems such as poor internet connection, availability of gadgets as well as errors on learning materials hounded the reopening of schools that had faced calls from groups to postpone. 

Education Secretary Leonor Briones at an IATF meeting in August 31 had also admitted that addressing mental health issues among teachers and students has been a challenge for the agency such as anxiety over the ongoing health crisis. 

DOH: It's okay to not be okay

The Department of Health has acknowledged that the pandemic can affect mental health and has emphasized that those who feel sad or worried during the coronavirus pandemic are not alone.

"Okey lang na hindi ka okey. Hindi ka nag-iisa. May mga taong naandiyan para suportahan ka," it says on its FAQ on mental health.

(It is okay to not be okay. You are not alone. There are people who will support you)

DOH also suggests going on "brain breaks" like getting in touch with family or friends through text messaging, phone calls, or online chat. It says it is important to stay connected with others despite the restrictions on movement due to the pandemic.

"You can talk to them about what you are experiencing," the DOH said.

It also suggests exercise and doing things that make you happy or that relax you.

The department urges people seeking professional support to get in touch with the National Center for Mental Health hotlines at 0917-899-USAP (8727) or 899-USAP (8727); or its Mind Matters hotline at 09189424864.

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