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Position Statement on the youth suicide prevention act of 2022
June 10, 2024 - 08:11:56 am

POSITION STATEMENT ON THE YOUTH SUICIDE PREVENTION ACT OF 2022
Psychological Association of the Philippines
February 2024

Senate Bill No. 1669, or the Youth Suicide Prevention Act of 2022 in the 19th Congress, is an act to provide early youth suicide intervention and prevention expansion. This Act was passed through the first reading and consequently referred to the Committees on Youth, Health and Demography, and Finance on January 24, 2023, and is currently pending in the committee. This bill gives particular importance to the provisions of Republic Act No. 11036 or the "Mental Health Act of 2018" with the guiding principle on mental health services access and delivery, highlighting the solicitude of the youth. It also emphasized the crucial and mandatory responsibilities of the Department of Education (DepEd) and the Department of Health (DOH) in Section 3: Formulation of Life Planning Education (LPE); Section 4: Implementation of Public Education Campaign; Section 5: Implementation of a Peer Counseling Group Program; Section 6: Employment of Psychologist for Monthly School Counseling Alignment Sessions; Section 7: Provision of Technical Assistance and Data Management; and Section 8: Establishing of Youth Health Centers.

The Psychological Association of the Philippines (PAP) is committed to promoting excellent, socially relevant, evidence-based, and ethical psychology practice for its continued growth and development on national and international levels in service to its members and the public. The  PAP strongly supports the Youth Suicide Prevention Act of 2022, acknowledging that youth suicide is a public health tragedy linked to underlying mental health problems and its early intervention and prevention activities as national priorities perfectly align with the vision and mission of PAP.

The PAP values the recognition of the said Act to the roles and responsibilities of a school psychologist mentioned explicitly in Sections 5 and 6. However, with RA 10029 or the Philippine Psychology Act of 2009, stating that psychologists have an important role in nation-building and development (section 2), we are recommending a more extensive and active role for our Registered Professional Psychometricians (associate psychologists) and Registered Professional Psychologists in the implementation of SB 1669, specific to the following:

On Formulation of Life Planning Education (Section 3): We recommend that along with the DepEd and the DOH, there will be a consulting/ADHOC committee from PAP or a consulting psychologist in crafting lectures and discussion of the LPE, specifically integrating psychological concepts, theories and current mental health and psychological well-being concerns involving self and identity, family and community values, communication and interrelationship with others, sexuality and gender roles, community participation, health, psychological thinking and employment, among others, as stated in the Act. The LPE, integrated into all schools, will be best implemented using a holistic perspective and inclusive approach. Working on the learning outcomes of each subject by incorporating LPE concepts will help students appreciate themselves and value life. The active involvement, close coordination, and consultation with a PAP-ADHOC committee or a psychologist-consultant to go over the discussions on life planning will be most helpful to appropriately giving attention and alleviating the mental illness stigma, mental health misconceptions, and prejudice and discrimination against sexual minorities and vulnerable populations. The PAP or the psychologist-consultant should also be a part of the training for school administrators, teachers, guidance counselors, and other school personnel responsible for delivering the LPE. By doing so, psychological screening and monitoring may also be done to ensure that the primary implementers of the LPE are free from any emotional distress and psychological disturbances that may hinder the delivery of their roles and responsibilities as stipulated in this Act.

On Implementation of Public Education Campaign (Section 4): It is strongly recommended that apart from tapping medical doctors, health specialists, medical experts, hospitals, and other medical institutions,  this Act mentions psychometricians and psychologists and be part of the team to conduct a nationwide education campaign to help the youth, parents of youth, teachers, school personnel and the general public. As per RA 10029 (section 3), the practice of psychology includes psychological interventions that involve the application of psychological principles to improve the psychological functioning of individuals, families, groups, and organizations. Including psychometricians and psychologists in the Public Education Campaign (PEC) will deepen the strength of preventing youth from self-deprecating and devaluing acts. Thus, it will be best for the PEC to be multisectoral, including significant communities to collaborate in the consortium.

On Implementation of a Peer Counseling Group Program in Every School (Section 5): In the absence of a school psychologist, we recommend that the psychometrician be included in implementing a Peer Counseling Program. The psychometrician is capable of assisting in the creation of a quick response team from the peer counselors in the conduct of psychological first aid and suicide prevention awareness activities and leading the conduct of mental health research focused on the impact of peer counseling in youth suicide prevention. Moreover, in addition to tapping the help of a health specialist, it is recommended that the PAP or a psychologist-consultant be included. The inputs of a psychologist on youth concerns linked to mental health are highly significant and recognized as intensely relevant to improving human capabilities and well-being (Clayton et al., 2016). Finally, it is recommended that “Peer Counseling” be used with caution or with an equivalent term so as not to conflict with RA 9258 or the Guidance and Counseling Act of 2004.

On Employment of Psychologist for Monthly School Counseling Alignment Sessions (Section 6): It is recommended that there may be a clause that instead of only a licensed psychologist to be considered in this employment, a regular/plantilla item for a licensed psychometrician will be included in every school, not only for the implementation of the monthly school counseling alignment sessions but also for fulfilling other school responsibilities mentioned in this Act, such as but not limited to the LPE, Public Education Campaign, Technical Assistance, and Data management. A consistent once-a-month visit of the licensed psychologist as the consultant and supervising psychologist of the employed psychometrician is recommended since RA 10029 states that the psychometrician must be, at all times, supervised by the licensed psychologist (section 3). Moreover, the school psychologist is recommended to create a referral and reporting system appropriate for schools and to establish a structured mechanism and monitoring scheme as part of the early screening, risk assessment, and youth suicide prevention.

On Provision of Technical Assistance and Data Management (Section 7): It is hoped that the PAP will be consulted and tapped in coming up with suicide prevention strategies, screening and crisis intervention strategies and procedures, and suicide-prevention research. Causes of suicidal behaviors, risk and protective factors, and critical psychological factors (O'Connor & Nock, 2014) will be significantly explained and given clarity by psychometricians and psychologists, given their academic preparation, appropriate training, professional practice, and fields of expertise in psychology.

On Establishing Youth Health Centers (Section 8): The PAP and the recognized psychological clinics and centers may also contribute to creating a network of health facilities and teen centers. This recommendation is essential, especially in the psychological screening, assessment, and monitoring of the children and adolescents admitted to youth health centers. Along with this, youth health centers should closely follow the provisions of PRB-Psychology Resolution No. 4, series of 2023, in terms of offering psychological interventions, psychological assessment, and psychological programs. In establishing youth health centers, an in-house psychometrician and a consultant psychologist will also be included in the employment list.


References:


Clayton, S., Devine-Wright, P., Swim, J., Bonnes, M., Steg, L., Whitmarsh, L., Carrico, A. (2016). Expanding the role of psychology in addressing environmental challenges. American Psychologist, 71(3), 199–215. doi:10.1037/a0039482


O'Connor, R. C., & Nock, M. K. (2014). The psychology of suicidal behaviour. The Lancet Psychiatry, 1(1), 73–85.


Republic Act No. 10029. An Act To Regulate The Practice Of Psychology Creating For This Purpose A Professional Regulatory Board Of Psychology, Appropriating Funds Therefor And For Other Purposes. https://lawphil.net/statutes/repacts/ra2010/ra_10029_2010.html


Republic Act No. 11036. An Act Establishing a National Mental Health Policy for the Purpose of Enhancing the Delivery of Integrated Mental Health Services, Promoting and Protecting the Rights of Persons Utilizing Psychosocial Health Services, Appropriating Funds Therefor, and Other Purposes. https://lawphil.net/statutes/repacts/ra2018/ra_11036_2018.html


Resolution No. 04, Series of 2023. Rules and Regulation To Implement Section 33 (B) of Republic Act No. 10029, Entitled “Philippine Psychology Act of 2009” On the Issuance of Permit To Operate A Psychology Or Psychometrics Office, Center, Clinic or Facility. Professional Regulatory Board of Psychology https://drive.google.com/file/d/1KiHcu02WD633qLtxDPmU6TO_pjNVyhiw/view


Senate Bill No. 1669. An Act To Provide Early Youth Suicide Intervention And Prevention Expansion. https://legacy.senate.gov.ph/lisdata/4034936762!.pdf



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