The 2024 national budget has allocated P210 million for the implementation of mental health programs and advocacies of the Department of Education (DepEd), Senator Win Gatchalian assured.
Gatchalian originally proposed P160 million for the implementation of mental health programs to address the mental crisis plaguing the country’s schools. Based on DepEd data, 1,686 learners died by suicide between School 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. Kaya tiniyak natin na sa ilalim ng 2024 budget, makakapaglaan tayo ng pondo para sa mga programa ng DepEd para sa mental health at masuportahan ang ating mga mag-aaral,” said Gatchalian, Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Basic Education.
International large-scale assessments showed the high prevalence of bullying in the country’s schools. The senator’s office analyzed the 2019 Southeast Asia Primary Learning Metrics (SEA-PLM) data and found that compared to their peers in Southeast Asia, the Philippines’ Grade 5 learners had the highest exposure to bullying (63.2%), aggression (9.2%), violence (12.3%), and offensive behavior (28.8%).
The latest round of the 2022 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) also indicated that one in three fifteen-year-old learners experienced being bullied at least once a week. While the number of Filipino learners who experienced bullying decreased between 2018 to 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 the Basic Education Mental Health and Well-Being Promotion Act (Senate Bill No. 2200) to institutionalize the School-Based Mental Health Program. The Senate approved the proposed measure on third and final reading last September.