To strengthen the advocacy for the mental health and well-being of children, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Council for the Welfare of Children (CWC), National Youth Commission (NYC), and other partners will lead the 30th National Children’s Month (NCM) Celebration this November.
Under Republic Act 10661, the month of November is declared as NCM to commemorate the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly on November 20, 1989. The Philippines is a signatory to the CRC, which is the first binding universal treaty solely dedicated to the protection and promotion of children’s rights.
For this year, the theme of the celebration is “Kalusugan, Kaisipan at Kapakanan ng Bawat Bata Ating Tutukan!” It calls for public support to prioritize the availability of necessary interventions to support the mental health and overall well-being of children amid the pandemic.
According to the National Center for Mental Health (NCMH) Crisis Hotline Report, 9.7% of the overall number of calls that they received were suicide-related, of which 251 were minors in distress due to feelings of sadness, anxiety, stress, bullying, family problems, and academic concerns, among others.
Meanwhile, during the 29th NCM celebration in November 2021, the CWC and the Consuelo Foundation initiated a learning/consultation session with children participants. Based on the result of the session, mental health was considered as one of the critical issues of children due to the high levels of stress that they experience inside and outside of their homes.
Hence, the NCM activities for the whole month of November this year will focus on providing mental health support services for children in line with their rights to survival, development, protection, and participation.
To start the celebration, the annual “Talakayang Makabata” press conference was held at La Breza Hotel on Tuesday, October 25, to discuss the efforts and interventions of concerned agencies to address the mental health risks on Filipino children.
The press conference was attended by CWC Executive Director Undersecretary Angelo Tapales; Department of Education (DepEd) Spokesperson Atty. Michael Wesley Poa; NYC Chairperson Ronald Gian Carlo Cardema; NCMH Medical Center Chief Dr. Noel V. Reyes, Museo Pambata Foundation, Inc. Executive Director Micah Sofia Pinto; DSWD-Program Management Bureau Social Welfare Officer Joseph Salavarria; and Regional Sub-Committee for the Welfare of Children (RSCWC) child representative Jean Claude Magdaong.
On November 3, the DSWD, CWC, and other partner-agencies will hold the NCM kick-off ceremony. It will feature the launching of the CWC MAKABATA helpline and the National Play Advocacy Week Partner’s Play Toolkit. The kick-off celebration will also showcase the relaunching of the Sarilaysay and Eroplanong Papel mental health literary pieces which aim to help children cope with the changes brought about by the new normal. It will be followed by the launching of video documentaries on the success stories of local government units on child participation and the functionality of their respective Local Council for the Protection of Children.
Other NCM activities include the DepEd NCM national, regional offices and school activities, Play and Mental Health Caravan, Ako Para sa Bata Webinar, Juvenile Justice and Welfare Consciousness Week activities, and 5th Conference on Digital Parenting focused on Cyberbullying.
The CWC will also announce the winners of the NCM Jingle Making Contest and will launch the 19th Congress CWC Legislative Agenda of Children Compendium in the Culminating Ceremony on November 25. During this activity, CWC will also launch its 18-Day Campaign to End Violence Against Women campaign and the Storybook on Children in Situations of Armed Conflict.
As part of its mental health support initiatives, the DSWD issued Memorandum Circular No. 19, S. 2022 or the “Institutionalization of the Wireless Mental Health and Psychosocial Support to Individuals and Families Affected by Crisis Situations (WiSUPPORT)” which establishes the WiSupport as a regular program of the Department and the flagship program of the DSWD Mental Health Committee.
The WiSUPPORT is a social welfare model intervention that seeks to provide a systematic response and technology-based Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) to clients including children in need of special protection, children and families in situations of armed conflict, persons with disabilities, senior citizens, overseas Filipinos in distress, women in especially difficult circumstances, individuals involved as first responders and caregivers to crisis situation, and other individuals and families in distress, among others.
The Department is committed to strengthening its mental health support services by innovating social technologies and establishing more partnerships, both at the national and regional levels, to ensure that MHPSS interventions are made more accessible to the Filipinos. Especially to the children who need them most.