Alarmed over reports of suicide cases among students, Senator Chiz Escudero has called on the Department of Health (DOH) to lead a nationwide study that will enable the government to get a bigger picture of the current mental health state of Filipinos.
Escudero, the chairperson of the Senate Committee on Higher, Technical, and Vocational Education, stressed a comprehensive study is needed to have a holistic and effective approach in addressing the problem in general.
The move, he said, will also supplement the recent survey conducted by the Department of Education (DepEd) on the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in the mental health of elementary and high school students.
Escudero recalled that since early 2021 when he was still the governor of Sorsogon, he has already been urging the national government to conduct the study so effective measures can be drafted and put in place to help Filipinos cope with the mental stress and anxiety caused by the global health crisis.
At the time, there were already reports of people, both students and workers, experiencing clinical depression.
The DepEd disclosed there were 404 students who died by suicide during academic year 2021-2022 while some 2,147 attempted suicides were recorded.
A DepEd representative at the Senate Committee on Basic Education hearing last week informed the senators that the worst might not be over since 100 percent in-person classes for public and private schools only resumed in November after two years of remote learning.
While he was governor, as an advocate of mental health and wellness, Escudero has also been pushing for a wider coverage of the Universal Health Care (UHC) program to include the promotion of mental health, and not just the treatment of mental health-related issues.
Escudero said there is really a need to promote mental health and wellness that is strongly supported by the government due to the alarming rise in mental health-related cases in the country.