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Dad wants fund to hire guidance counselors for schools to battle mental health issues

A Baguio councilor  is seeking funding for a program that will allow schools to hire guidance counselors in an attempt to help solve mental health issues especially for students and reduce if not stop suicides.
Councilor Vladimir Cayabas said that this was the consensus reached with mental health experts and stakeholders during a public consultation Thursday at the YMCA.
Cayabas, the city council’s chair on education committee, said the alarming cases of suicides the past three years need intervention prompting him to call for the public hearing with guidance counselors, representatives from the Philippine Mental Health Association and the Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center Psychiatric ward to address mental health issues especially among young students.
However, the Department of Education has no capability to hire such employees.
Cayabas bemoaned that only eight counselors are employed by DepEd to cater to 64 public high and elementary schools which have a combined population of 94,581 students. This is on top of the more than 22,000 from the private schools.
Baguio is considered the education capital of the north.
Instead, the DepEd utilize full time teachers as guidance counselor designates with no prior training in dealing with students who have mental health issues.
He also revealed that teachers designated as such will serve for a year and are replaced the next year thus they are not given the training required to deal with such.
Moreover said counselor designates also have regular load that add up to their load.
Cayabas said that the city could utilize the special education fund that could allow the recruitment of guidance counselors.
He said that full time professional counselors who finished a Psychology undergraduate and a masters degree should be hired to address mental health issues especially after nearly three years of no face to face classes due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Cayabas is taking cue from the assessment of local and mental health experts who disclosed that suicide cases in the city have risen in the last three years.
Ricky Ducas Jr., the City Health Services Office (CHSO) mental health program coordinator, said that suicide cases significantly increased at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic because of the mental health issues that were triggered by the series of lock downs that were enforced and kept them isolated in their homes.
CHSO reports that 19 suicide cases were tallied in 2019 which increased to 30 cases in 2020 when lockdown was enforced to avoid spread of the virus.
In 2021, there were 37 reported cases and dipped slightly to 33 last year.
For the first quarter of the year, Ducas said six suicide cases, three males and three females, have been reported which is half of the 12 suicide cases during the first quarter of 2022.
He said the age of the victims range between 15 and 29, most of them adolescents. Pigeon Lobien

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