Government Must Urgently Intervene to Protect Mental Health of Children in the Philippines, says Save the Children
FAIRFIELD, Conn. (Feb. 10, 2023) — The government must act urgently to protect the health and lives of young people across the Philippines, Save the Children said, following reports of a shocking number of actual and attempted suicides among Philippine students in the last academic year.
According to the latest figures from the Department of Education, 404 students died by suicide during the 2021-2022 school year[i], with a staggering 2,147 attempting suicide during the same period.
Atty. Alberto Muyot, Save the Children Philippines CEO, said:
"The mental health crisis in the Philippines is a national emergency. Children and young people have emerged from the COVID-19 pandemic and the physical and mental health challenges it brought into a society that is even more unequal than before the pandemic.
"The government must urgently intervene by investing in mental health services across healthcare, protection, education, and welfare. But ultimately, it must do more to support and protect children from disadvantaged backgrounds and create a more equal society. Children from all backgrounds and identities have the right to survive, learn, and be protected."
Notes to editors
Save the Children in the Philippines is calling for the following:
- The Department of Health must mainstream mental health services into primary care, increasing both the availability and accessibility of mental health support and investing in training staff;
- The Department for Social Welfare and Development must complement social welfare programs with child-friendly, community-based mental health programs that address the psychosocial needs of entire families;
- Mental health services should be strengthened to support children with disabilities, indigenous children, children in alternative care, and other disadvantaged children;
- The Department for Education (DepEd) must develop and implement school-based mental health programs to help students cope with stressors arising from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and other issues such as gender-based violence and bullying. DepEd must invest in staff who can support students with mental health needs, including necessary referrals to other professionals if needed.
Save the Children has been working in the Philippines since 1981 with programs in humanitarian response, health and nutrition, education, and children's rights and protection. As part of its mental health and psychosocial support, the organization runs programs in mental health literacy, including training for parents and caregivers and providing materials and technical trainings for teachers.
[i] July 2021 – July 2022
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