A mental health professional urged the Department of Education (DepEd) to utilize and maximize its mental health professionals, particularly the guidance counselors to address the growing cases of suicide among students.
The advice came after yet another case of suicide involving a Grade 11 student in Tupi, South Cotabato was reported earlier this week, ahead of the observance of World Mental Health Day (October 10).
Francis Ray Subong, a mental health professional and guidance counselor, said that the ‘3rd wave’ of COVID-19 or the mental health crisis is alarming, as while there are suicide cases among students that are reported, there are also those that remain unknown.
Subong pointed out that the DepEd could have prevented this from worsening if mental health professionals and guidance counselors are properly tapped by the agency to provide mental health and psychosocial support services to teachers and students amid the challenges brought by the online and blended learning scheme.
He added that mental health professionals in the country are instead “undervalued” and “underutilized,” emphasizing that the DepEd should “truly understand the essence” of guidance counseling.
Subong noted that the DepEd has no “real or concrete” mental health program even if it is mandated by the Republic Act 11036 otherwise known as the Mental Health Act of 2018 and Civil Service Commission Memorandum Circular Number 4, Series of 2020, titled Mental Health in the Public Sector.
Teachers, students, and parents have been expressing their sentiments on social media about the burden and difficulties they need to address themselves when it comes to online classes, with mostly saying that the situation has been taking a toll on their mental health.