BACOLOD CITY – Lone District Cong. Greg G. Gasataya has refiled in the 18th Congress a proposed law that seeks to improve mental health services for students in government-run tertiary schools.
A senior legislative staff of Gasataya’s Manila office confirmed to DNX the refiling of House Bill 6768 in the 18th Congress.
‘It is now known as HB573,” he said.
The committee on higher and technical education had already approved HB6768 on August 28, 2018 after it was filed by Gasataya as a neophyte.
The May 2019 elections, however, deprived the measure sufficient time for it to become a law by hurdling the process in the Lower House.
Gasataya’s proposed law is the first in recent years to have been filed in the Lower House that seeks to strengthen mental health assistance for students in public schools.
The Youth for Mental Health Coalition chapter here partnered with Gasataya starting last year to drum up awareness for the issue, which it described as becoming an “urgent concern” among the youth.
The United Nation’s World Health Organization had reported in 2004 that up to six out of 10 Filipinos attending primary care clinics in the country are estimated to have Mental, Neurological, Substance Abuse or MSN disorders.
Four years before that, the Census of Population and Housing showed that mental illness and mental retardation rank 3rd and 4th respectively among the types of disabilities in the country 88/100,000, the DOH added in its website.
In 2011, the WHO Global School-Based Health Survey showed that in the Philippines, 16 percent of students between 13-15 years old have ever seriously considered attempting suicide while 13 percent have actually attempted suicide one or more times during the past year, the DOH added.
An initial study by Y4MH last year showed that among the problems in campuses is the lack of in-school psychiatrists and the seeming lack of a comprehensive database on mental health cases in the province.
Gasataya had earlier vowed to MH advocates that he would champion their advocacy in Congress.