House OKs mental health services bill for state universities, colleges on 2nd reading

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 10 2021 07:16 PM

MANILA - The House of Representatives on Tuesday approved on 2nd reading a measure that aims to institute mental health services in state universities and colleges nationwide. 

According to its congressional fact sheet, House Bill No. 0284 or the proposed State Universities And Colleges (SUCs) Mental Health Service Act seeks to uphold the basic right of every Filipino to sound mental health and to ensure access to appropriate interventions, therapy, and treatment as needed.

The measure also seeks to create policies that would promote the mental health and wellness of students, faculty, teaching and non-teaching staff, and other personnel in the campuses of state colleges and universities. 

It would also help establish programs and provide services that shall assist college students in resolving emotional, behavioral and psychosocial issues and address their being barriers to learning, the lawmakers added. 

The bill wants to enhance the preparedness of the faculty, teaching and non-teaching staff, and other personnel of SUCs to foster or support an enabling environment for students to acquire knowledge and to develop intellectually.

The same fact sheet added that the bill mandates the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) to require all SUCs to establish a mental health office in all their campuses and directs the mental health offices to set up campus hotlines with dedicated and trained guidance counselors to provide assistance to the whole SUC community, especially the students, with special attention given to those identified to have mental health problems or conditions and those at risk of committing suicide.

It instructs the SUCs-based mental health service personnel of the Mental Health Offices, including those who shall be hired under the proposed law, to create a mechanism for timely crisis intervention and suicide prevention and the appropriate response strategies for the whole SUCs community, especially the students.

The measure also instructs the CHED and the SUCs, through the mental health offices, to initiate and sustain a heightened campaign to raise the collective consciousness about mental health.

This developed after news broke in late October that student groups in Baguio City urged the local government to declare an "academic break" as learners felt overwhelmed in trying to accomplish their school requirements while still recovering from the devastation left by Tropical Storm Maring.

Saint Louis University has released an official statement on its Facebook page, saying it has “remained steadfast to support not only the academic needs but more importantly their (students) non- academic needs, such as mental health, welfare, and safety.”

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