Solon wants mental health wellness break for students, employees

MANILA A party-list lawmaker has filed a bill seeking to grant a mental health wellness break to all employees and students.

AGBIAG Rep. Michelle Antonio filed House Bill 7400, which seeks to institutionalize mental health wellness breaks of three days for both employees and students.

The bill provides that employees are entitled to full compensation for those breaks, while students are excused from their classes with a condition that the break is availed of only during regular class days, and not on examination days.

In her explanatory note, Antonio stressed the need for the government to address the mental health problem, considering that mental illness ranks third in the most common disabilities in the country affecting one of five of the hundred million Filipinos.

Antonio said the three-day mental health wellness break would give employees and students the "opportunity to reassess positively their mental well-being with the help of professionals."

Mental health issues are and should no longer remain taboo, rather, we should be able to talk about it without prejudice to those affected in order to help each other. The government should act now with utmost urgency to assist in all ways possible its citizens who suffer from mental health illnesses," Antonio said.

The bill mandates all public and private schools to integrate mental health awareness in their curriculum and hire at least one in-house certified guidance counselor or allied professional who will provide lectures and counseling services to students.

It also requires employers to offer mental health wellness activities that employees can attend.

Any employer or school in violation of the provisions of the legislation shall pay a fine of PHP100,000 as well as imprisonment of the entity's executive officers, such as the chief executive officer or the principal, of up to six months.

Source: Philippine News Agency

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