Press Release
September 11, 2023

Senate approves bill on school-based mental health program --Gatchalian

Following the Senate's third and final reading approval of the Basic Education Mental Health and Well-Being Promotion Act (Senate Bill No. 2200), Senator Win Gatchalian hailed a significant step forward in addressing what he called a pandemic of mental health woes.

Senate Bill No. 2200, which Gatchalian authored and sponsored, seeks to institutionalize the School-Based Mental Health Program to promote and ensure the mental health and well-being of learners in public and private basic education institutions. The bill also covers out-of-school children in special cases that include learners with disabilities or conditions, indigenous peoples, children in conflict with the law, learners in emergency situations, and other marginalized sectors.

The bill mandates the Department of Education (DepEd) to establish and maintain Care Centers in every public basic education institution and ensure their establishment and maintenance in private basic education institutions. Care Centers will be mandated to equip learners with skills and information for prevention, identification, and proper response and referral for their own and others' mental health needs.

Care Centers shall also facilitate the efficient referral for appropriate intervention to, and provision of adequate aftercare support by other appropriate agencies, institutions, organizations, or professionals. The Centers are further mandated to improve the mental health awareness and literacy of teaching and non-teaching personnel.

To address the need for enough personnel running the School-Based Mental Health Program, the bill creates the new plantilla positions of Mental Health Associates I to V, and Mental Health Specialists I to V. The bill also seeks the conversion of existing plantilla positions of Guidance Counselors and Psychologists in the DepEd to Mental Health Specialists.

Gatchalian previously pointed out that as of July 2022, there were only 1,192 filled positions for both guidance counselors and coordinators within the DepEd. For School Year 2023-2024, the DepEd said that more than 26 million learners are enrolled.

Meanwhile, the DepEd said that 404 learners from public schools died by suicide for School Year 2021-2022.

Panukalang batas para sa school-based mental health program pasado na sa Senado--Gatchalian

Pasado na sa ikatlo at huling pagbasa ang Basic Education Mental Health and Well-Being Promotion Act (Senate Bill No. 2200). Para kay Senador Win Gatchalian maituturing na mahalagang hakbang ito upang masugpo ang tinatawag niyang pandemya ng mental health sa bansa.

Layon ng Senate Bill No. 2200 na gawing institutionalized ang School-Based Mental Health Program upang pangalagaan at itaguyod ang mental health at kapakanan ng mga mag-aaral sa mga pampubliko at mga pribadong paaralan. Saklaw din ng panukalang batas ang mga out-of-school children in special cases tulad ng mga mag-aaral na may kapansanan, indigenous peoples, children in conflict with the law, mga kabataang naipit sa gitna ng mga sakuna, at iba pang mga marginalized sectors.

Imamandato ng panukalang batas sa Department of Education (DepEd) ang pagpapatayo at pagpapatakbo ng mga Care Center sa mga pampublikong paaralan. Magiging tungkulin ng mga Care Center na turuan ang mga mag-aaral pagdating sa prevention, identification, at tamang pagresponde at referral para sa kanilang mga pangangailangan pagdating sa mental health. Titiyakin din ng DepEd na may mga Care Center sa mga pribadong paaralan.

Pagmumulan din ang mga Care Center ng angkop na referral para sa mga intervention at aftercare support mula sa mga ahensya, institusyon, organisasyon, at iba pang mga propesyonal. Mandato rin sa mga Care Center na paigtingin ang kaalaman at literacy ng mga guro pagdating sa mental health.

Upang matiyak namang may sapat na mga kawani para sa pagpapatakbo ng School-Based Mental Health Program, lilikha ang panukalang batas ng mga bagong plantilla positions na Mental Health Associates I hanggang V, at Mental Health Specialists I hanggang V. Sa ilalim ng panukalang batas, magiging Mental Health Specialists ang mga Guidance Counselor at Psychologists sa DepEd

Binigyang diin ni Gatchalian na noong Hulyo 2022, may 1,192 lamang na napunang posisyon sa DepEd para sa guidance counselors at coordinators. Para sa School Year 2023-2024, iniulat ng DepEd na merong mahigit 26 milyong mag-aaral na ang naka-enroll.

Ayon sa datos, may 404 na mag-aaral ang nagpakamatay noong School Year 2021-2022.

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