Senator Win Gatchalian urges the Department of Education (DepEd) to make responsible social media use a key component in mental health programs for schools, noting that increased smartphone and social media use has been linked to depression and anxiety among children and adolescents.
In a news report, Dr. Cornelio Banaag, Jr. of the Medical City explained that the blue light of smartphones inhibits melatonin production and keeps young people awake at night. When young people are sleep-deprived, they become more prone to having depression and anxiety.
“Babala sa atin ng mga eksperto, ang pagbababad sa social media ang isang pangunahing dahilan kung bakit dumarami ang mga kabataang dumaranas ng anxiety at depresyon. Nakakabahala ito lalo na’t nababansagan tayong social media capital of the world, kaya naman mahalagang maituro natin ang wastong paggamit ng internet at social media,” said Gatchalian.
The Department of Health (DOH) reported that around 3.3 million Filipinos suffer from depressive disorders. According to the 2015 World Health Organizaton’s Global-based student health survey, a study involving more than 8,000 high school students aged 13-17 in the Philippines, nearly 17 percent of its respondents had attempted suicide in the previous year. Almost 12 percent of the study’s participants also seriously considered committing suicide.
DepEd officials have cited the case of a Grade 10 student who reportedly committed suicide inside their residence in Sorsogon City in March this year.
DepEd’s flagship health program Oplan Kalusugan (OK) sa DepEd started including mental health this year. According to the senator this should be leveraged to increase awareness-building and psycho-social intervention programs.
The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture also agrees that schools should restore Good Manners and Right Conduct (GMRC) in their curriculum which can cover teaching students responsible social media use.
“Dahil hindi nababantayan ang ilang kabataan sa paggamit nila ng internet, nagkakaroon sila ng destructive and violent behavior. Kung gusto nating maging relevant ang panukalang GMRC subject, kailangan suriin natin kung paano tatalakayin ang paggamit ng internet at social media,” Gatchalian said.
Gatchalian added that since there are only less than 100 registered child psychiatrists in the country, guidance counselors and teachers should join capacity-building programs on providing psychological first aid.
“Ang kailangan natin dito ay holistic approach. Kung tuturuan natin ang mga estudyante kung paano maging responsable sa social media at kung paano alagaan ang sarili nila, kailangang siguruhin din natin na ang mga magtuturo ay may sapat at tamang kakayahan para gawin ito,” Gatchalian stressed.