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Preventing student suicides requires help of DOH, DSWD – Save the Children

Cristina Chi - Philstar.com
Preventing student suicides requires help of DOH, DSWD â Save the Children
In this file photo, mental health advocates campaign for passage of the Mental Health Act, which was passed into law in June 2018.
Youth For Mental Health Coalition Facebook page

MANILA, Philippines — Addressing the alarming increase in suicide incidents among students will need the help of agencies aside from the Department of Education, a children's rights advocacy group said in a statement on Thursday.

Save the Children Philippines said that solving the mental health crisis in schools will require the Department of Health to improve children’s access to health care and the Department of Social Welfare and Development to create community-based mental health programs.

This comes after DepEd disclosed in a Senate hearing that there were 404 suicide incidents and 2,147 suicide attempts among students in 2021, finally confirming the nationwide scale of the spike in suicide cases initially reported by student groups during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

"Our country’s mental health crisis is a public health concern that requires an urgent whole-community approach response. The gravity of the issue cannot be overlooked as the suicide rates may even increase in the coming years, if left unaddressed," said Alberto Muyot, chief executive officer of Save the Children Philippines.

"To protect an entire generation from violence and untimely deaths, we need the national agencies and local governments to immediately act and work together to prevent years of progress from being reversed," Muyot added.

Specifically, Muyot pressed the DOH to "prioritize the integration of mental healthcare into primary care by increasing the availability and accessibility of mental health services, and training primary care professionals on the promotion, prevention, care and protection."

He also called on the DSWD to "complement social welfare programs with child-friendly community-based mental health programs that address not only individual mental health and psychosocial needs but the overall psychosocial needs of the family unit as well."

"We have to break the stigma and tear down the environment of shame that have cloaked generations of children in silence and prevented them from enjoying their right to live in a safe and healthy environment," he added.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, at least 17% of adolescent Filipino students attempted suicide once a year at minimum, according to a 2015 Global School-based Student Health Survey.

The Department of Health 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.

DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION

DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH

DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL WELFARE AND DEVELOPMENT

DEPED

MENTAL HEALTH

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