By Leonel Abasola
MANILA – Senator Sherwin Gatchalian said Wednesday treatment is not covered by Senate Bill (SB) 2200, which seeks to institutionalize a school-based mental health program in the country.
“Pero lilinawin ko, hindi natin sasaklawin, hindi kasama dito iyong treatment. Iyong treatment kasi mas kumplikado ito. Baka kakailanganin na ng medical intervention kung saan mga ospital na natin ang papasok para mabigay ng intervention (Let me clarify this, we will not cover treatment. It is not part of this.Treatment is complicated. It might need medical intervention in the hospital),” Gatchalian said during a Bangon Pilipinas Ngayon interview over PTV4.
The Senate approved SB 2200 or the Basic Education Mental Health and Well-Being Promotion Act on third and final reading in September.
Gatchalian said the measure aims to strengthen the mental health program of the Department of Education by setting up “care centers” to be handled by guidance counselors and registered psychologists.
He said the bill also aims to encourage more college students to take guidance counseling and other mental health-related courses.
Another objective, he said, is to help teaching and non-teaching staff “because not only students are experiencing mental health issues.”
He said mental health-related calls have increased, particularly during the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic in 2020 and 2021.
“Lumalabas sa datos na sa loob ng limang taon ay mayroong nagpakamatay na halos 1,600 students sa mga public schools natin (Based on data, in five years, almost 1,600 students in our public schools have committed suicide),” he said.
Gatchalian said included in the school-based mental health program are information campaigns and referral systems, such as counseling.
“Itong mga care centers, ito iyong lugar kung saan pwedeng pumunta iyong mga estudyante or teaching and non-teaching staff para humingi ng counseling at ng payo kung ano gagawin (These care centers are where our students and non-teaching staff could go to seek counseling and advice on what to do),” he said.
The bill will also create new plantilla positions for personnel who will run the school-based mental health program, he said.
Gatchalian said SB 2200 also seeks to address bullying and help the student victims.
“Bullying ay isang mental health issue both doon sa nabu-bully at nambu-bully kaya ang mental health ay isang academic issue rin (Bullying is a mental health issue both for the bully and the victim. So mental health is also an academic issue),” he said.
“Kaya kung ang layunin ng batas natin ay pataasin ang learner performance, learner outcome, mga grado ng ating mga estudyante, dapat ma-address natin ang mental health situation ng ating mga mag-aaral (So, if the objective of the bill is to increase the learners’ performance, learner outcome, the grades of the students, we should address the mental health situation of our students).” (PNA)