We’re sure a lot are dreading finals season during the pandemic. It’s really hard, especially when there’s much more happening alongside COVID-19 spreading. With students’ concerns being so serious, what really grinds my gears is the audacity of some to push aside their woes as something miniscule.
Recently, a video showing just that has been making rounds on social media. In it, a Department of Education higher up could be seen apparently making light of students dying by suicide, with her laughing as she said, “Meron pa rin daw nag-suicide dahil sa modules.” This clip is from the sixth episode of “Netfliks,” which is under Sen. Imee Marcos’ youth assistance program Sirib Express, posted on Dec. 11.
The DepEd higher up seen in the clip was Vilma Eda, a DepEd provincial schools division superintendent of Ilocos Norte. Ironically, she was there on the show as a guest speaker to discuss ways of addressing mental health concerns with regards to blended learning (for both students and teachers).
Since Eda completely missed the mark, we’ve taken the liberty to show her what she (and others who think like her) should know:
Suicide rates in the Philippines are rising due to the pandemic
The World Health Organization (WHO) says that “the National Center for Mental Health (NCMH) has revealed a significant increase in monthly hotline calls regarding depression, with numbers rising from 80 calls pre-lockdown to nearly 400.” Why? These are mostly caused by mental health-related issues. WHO also revealed that those most vulnerable are those in the 15-29 age bracket.
According to data from the “Global Burden of Disease Study,”[the Philippines has] close to “9 million prevalent cases of mental, neurological, and substance use disorders, 3.3 million of which are anxiety disorders, and 2.6 million of which are depression.”
Joking about it prevents more people from seeking help
According to the same article by WHO, most Filipinos are afraid to seek help despite knowing that they might be suffering from a mental illness. This is because they feel like they’ll be alienated. Joking about it would make them just bottle up their feelings. According to a study published in the “BMC Medical Health Research” journal, negative emotions and attitude [to mental illnesses] act as barriers to care.
“Young people who believe that mental illnesses are the responsibility of the person affected are more likely to react to people who are mentally ill with anger, pitilessness or avoidance,” the authors wrote. “There are therefore grounds to consider that stigma may be one important factor in reducing help-seeking for mental illnesses, for example by avoiding the embarrassment of diagnosis.”
Students will be facing more stress
This year alone, more than two million students dropped out of school. Aside from the financial problems most of us are facing, students are having a hard time adapting to such big changes in our education system. This is because the new guidelines aren’t inclusive for people who don’t have access to technology. That’s why some students even turn to sex work just so they can have education. But alas, even typhoon victims were told by Sec. Leonor Briones to just “hang and iron” their modules instead of being given consideration.