The reported rise in cases of suicide among Filipino students has alarmed Catholic priests.
Media reports cited stress brought about by the newly-introduced online learning system as among the reasons why young people are taking their own lives.
The Education department decided to implement the new learning system when classes opened this month due to the continuing threat of the coronavirus pandemic in the country.
Oblates priest Eduardo Vasquez said the government should “take a closer look” at the reported cases of suicide “due to education-related stress.”
“We need to look at the impacts of the new learning system on [the children’s] mental health,” said the priest.
Father Vasquez said many Filipino students, especially those in the provinces, are not accustomed to long hours of screen exposure.
He also noted Filipinos are already facing mental health challenges because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“The struggles that come with this new learning system add to the already distressed situation of many young people,” said Father Vasquez.
Franciscan priest Angelito Cortez called on religious institutions to create programs that provide psycho-social assessment of students during online classes.
He called on private organizations to extend help to the government to find ways to address mental health issues caused by “changing norms” due to the pandemic.
“Our young people must continue learning even if we are suffering from a pandemic,” he said. “But we must also protect them from any harm brought by these changes,” added Father Cortez.
Yolanda Esguerra, national coordinator of the Philippine-Misereor Partnership Inc., said psycho-social interventions are necessary to everyone in the academe.
“Aside from the students, teachers are also exposed to many stress because of the pandemic and the need to cope up with the new learning system,” she said.
Esguerra called on faith-based medical groups “to seek resources that will maintain programs on mental health interventions.”
In August, the country’s Health department announced that the number of people seeking help for mental health issues rose since the start of the pandemic.
The National Center for Mental Health has received more than 1,000 phone calls from people seeking professional help from just 400 monthly calls before the pandemic.
From 672 calls in March, the mental health institution received 1,104 calls in April. The highest spike so far was in June when it received 1,115 calls.