May 27, 2024

The Insider News

Direct from the source

Bill for school-based mental health program passed in Senate

THE Basic Education Mental Health and Well-Being Promotion Act (Senate Bill No. 2200) has passed its third and final reading. For Senator Win Gatchalian, this can be considered an important step to curb what he calls the mental health pandemic in the country.

Purpose of Senate Bill No. 2200 to institutionalize the School-Based Mental Health Program to protect and promote the mental health and well-being of students in public and private schools. The bill also covers out-of-school children in special cases such as students with disabilities, indigenous peoples, children in conflict with the law, youth stuck in the middle of disasters, and other marginalized sectors.

The bill will mandate the Department of Education (DepEd) to build and operate Care Centers in public schools. It will be the duty of Care Centers to educate students when it comes to prevention, identification, and proper response and referral for their needs when it comes to mental health. DepEd will also ensure that there are Care Centers in private schools.

Care Centers are also a source of appropriate referrals for interventions and aftercare support from agencies, institutions, organizations, and other professionals. Care Centers are also mandated to increase the knowledge and literacy of teachers when it comes to mental health.

In order to ensure adequate staffing for the operation of the School-Based Mental Health Program, the bill would create new plantilla positions Mental Health Associates I through V, and Mental Health Specialists I through V. Under the bill, Guidance Counselors and Psychologists in DepEd will become Mental Health Specialists

Gatchalian emphasized that as of July 2022, there are only 1,192 filled positions in DepEd for guidance counselors and coordinators. For the School Year 2023-2024, DepEd reported that there are more than 26 million students enrolled.

According to the data, there were 404 students who committed suicide during the School Year 2021-2022.