#UsapTayo Lite: Ready ka na ba for school?


Writer: Azie Marie Liban
Editor: Kyra Ballesteros
Graphics: Emil James Los Baños

The Department of Education has just released DepEd Order No. 022, series of 2023, which sets August 29 as a day  for schools in the Philippines to formally open. The school year is expected to end on June 14, 2024 [1].

And with the thrust to achieve full face-to-face classes by 2023, the bigger question is: will another wave of changes and adjustments, as we move forward to a different future be too much to take for all the members of school communities?

According to a Mental Health topic brief by the World Health Organization, UNESCO, and UNICEF, the importance of mental health and well-being for learners is a primary concern for governments [2].

It emphasized that Mental health is not simply the absence of illness but a state in which learners realize their own abilities, can cope with normal life stressors, learn well, build meaningful relationships and are able to contribute to their community. This is true to the WHO’s definition of MH. The brief also highlighted that social and emotional well-being can include connection to land, spirituality, ancestry and culture, and this also provides foundations for mental health [2].

Further, the brief posits that when learners have good mental health and well-being, they are healthier, more socially connected, and more productive. Learners also experience better school engagement, increased attendance, and better academic performance [2].

The current global learning crisis is rooted in the unfortunate lack of investment in infrastructure—both physical and systemic. The well being of both teachers and students alike also requires more consideration, and more attention. These school-based mental health issues were made more complex to solve with the COVID-19 pandemic [2].

So, how do we make it better for schools? UNICEF shares five pillars for promoting and protecting mental health in schools and learning environments:

  1. Create an enabling learning environment for positive mental health and well-being. 
  2. Guarantee access to early intervention and mental health services and support. 
  3. Promote teacher well-being and ensure that there are policies, strategies, and services in place to support the mental health and well-being of teachers and that of nonteaching staff, and all involved in the care and support of learners in schools (including caregivers). 
  4. Enhance MHPSS capacity in the education workforce with school-based mental health programmes that are built on a solid foundation of national, regional, and local education professionals, who have learning and well being opportunities.
  5. Ensure meaningful collaboration between the school, family, and community to build a safe and nurturing learning environment that creates a sense of belonging for every learner. 

You will find the complete document here: Promoting and protecting mental health in schools and learning environments health-schools-and-learning-environments

If it takes a village to raise a child, then perhaps it takes all of us, with efforts great and small, to make mentally healthier school communities in the country.

Here are other useful toolkits that your schools and institutions can use:



  1. School break: How did you take a break from school (as a student or as a teacher)? If not, tell us why you were not able to and how you’d have wanted to spend school break?
  2. School wishes: If you had three wishes for your school life, what would it be? 

e.g. I wish we did more hybrid classes (for students), I wish I had higher pay (for teachers), I wish the government was more sensitive to the needs of the learners and teachers.

  1. School resolution: How do you see this school year? How do you plan to make it better for yourself and your school community?



[1] DepEd releases guidelines for School Year 2022-2023. Retrieved from: https://www.deped.gov.ph/2022/07/12/deped-releases-guidelines-for-school-year-2022-2023/

[2] How school systems can improve health and well-being: topic brief: mental health https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/9789240064751

[3] Promoting and protecting mental health in schools and learning environments. https://www.unicef.org/reports/promoting-and-protecting-mental-health-schools-and-learning-environments

How do you feel about this?

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