Senator Sherwin Gatchalian said the P210 million under the Department of Education’s budget for 2024 is a big boost for the implementation of mental health programs.
Gatchalian said he originally proposed P160M for carrying out mental health programs to address the mental crisis plaguing the country’s schools.
Based on DepEd data, he said 1,686 learners died by self-harm between syhool Year (SY) 2017-2018 and SY 2022-2023, while 7,892 learners attempted suicide.
“Mahalagang matutukan natin ang pagpapatibay at epektibong pagpapatupad ng mga programa ng ating mga paaralan para sa mental health,” Gatchalian said in a statement.
“That is why we made sure that under the 2024 budget, we could allot funds for DepEd’s programs for mental health so we could support our students.”
He said large-scale international assessments showed the high prevalence of bullying in schools.
Gatchalian said that based on the analysis conducted by his office using the 2019 Southeast Asia Primary Learning Metrics data, they found that compared to their peers in Southeast Asia, the Philippines’ grade 5 learners had the highest exposure to bullying (63.2 percent), aggression (9.2 percent), violence (12.3 percent), and offensive behavior (28.8 percent).
The latest round of the 2022 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) also indicated that one in three 15-year-old learners experienced being bullied at least once a week.
While the number of Filipino learners who experienced bullying decreased between 2018 and 2022, the DepEd emphasized that bullying remains a pervasive problem, especially in public schools and more so for boys.
The PISA report also found that learners who were bullied at least a few times a month scored 11 to 44 points lower in mathematics.
Gatchalian has been advocating for the passage of Senate Bill 2200 or the Basic Education Mental Health and Well-Being Promotion Act to institutionalize a school-based mental health program.
The Senate approved the proposal on third and final reading in September. – PNA