In 2011, the World Health Organization found that 16% of Filipino students aged 13 to 15 had contemplated suicide, whilst 13% had actually attempted suicide. Suicide, although not often publicly discussed, is closely linked to mental health disorders.
Unfortunately, mental illness is still a relatively misconstrued concept in our nation with limited public discussion on the proper management and care for those affected.
In a fast urbanizing nation, youth find themselves facing increasing amounts of pressure from the demands of school, employment, and various other social pressures. On the other hand, families now have much more diverse set-ups and and limited time, leaving the youth to be more independent in resolving their own conflicts. Unfortunately, many young people are left with few persons from whom they can seek advice when going through symptoms that are linked to mental illness. Efforts must be made to empower the youth in that mental illness is something that can be addressed without prejudice and with the full support of the community and State.
This bill proposes the creation of a Mental Health Program for the youth aged 15 to 30 years old, to be implemented by the Department of Health, in conjunction with various other government agencies such as the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), the Department of Education (DepEd), and the Commission on Higher Education (CHED).
The Mental Health Program for youth will see a widespread information drive on mental health awareness, to be implemented by all local government units. This bill also seeks for the establishment of a Mental Health Desk at all city and municipal health offices where a mental health practitioner will be able to cater to consultations and queries of adolescents and the youth.
In addition, this bill seeks for every public or private educational institution to employ at least one qualified guidance counselor who is authorized as a mental health practitioner to provide support and advice to students.
We must ensure that adolescents and the youth’s rights are protected and their needs addressed. By establishing the Mental Health program, we can better equip them to face the challenges of present-day realities. In doing so, we can fully harness the potential of the bright Filipino youth who are our invaluable partners in building the nation.
In view of the foregoing, the passing of this bill is earnestly sought.