SIQUIJOR, April 16 (PIA) -- To address the alarming issues on teenage pregnancy, sexual violence, and HIV infection among youth, as well as other issues among teens and adolescents, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Siquijor is crafting a resolution requesting all barangays to conduct the communication campaign dubbed "Heart to H.E.A.R.T. Talk" program.
The program was launched earlier by the Commission on Population and Development (POPCOM) to address the current issues affecting teens and adolescents.
This will be led by the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) Provincial Federation of Siquijor province facilitated by its chairperson, Brylle Deeiah Tumarong, who will bring the program down to the barangays.
In the "Heart to H.E.A.R.T Talk," H stands for HIV, AIDS and STI; E for Early Sexual Encounters; A for Adolescent Sexuality; R for Reproductive Health and T for Teenage Pregnancy Prevention.
It is a communication campaign that aims to educate the youth on delaying sexual debut, premarital sex, early teenage pregnancy, and further avoiding getting sexually transmitted disease at an early age.
It will also discuss mental health that has become one of the alarming issues that can be associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.
During the Straight from the Source interview with the Philippine Information Agency here, Siquijor Vice Gov. Mei Ling Quezon-Brown admitted that it is alarming and disturbingn that suicide cases involving young people are increasing in the island.
Citing the existing factors affecting the mental health of the youth, Brown said the COVID-19 pandemic is one of the many reasons why suicide cases are increasing.
"Considering that the island of Siquijor is limited in resources in terms of entertainment and leisure, this pandemic has worsened the movement of all. This hinders the mental state and well-being of an individual," said Brown.
She said limited face-to-face gatherings, work from home arrangements, loss of jobs and opportunities, lesser physical activities, and the social media itself constitute the worst-case scenario.
Brown encouraged everyone in the province to use their social media accounts to promote harmony, proper information dissemination to the public for awareness, and to socially motivate others to work together to fight for mental health awareness.
The Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Siquijor, she said, has also approved a resolution supporting the conduct of the communication campaign.
She said the Provincial Government of Siquijor through its COVID-19 Task Force created a sub-task force to cater to the mental health issues in the lone district.
The sub-task force is headed by Tumarong, who also sits as the Provincial Interagency Task Force COVID-19 Information Officer.
The program also promotes activities for the youth such as sports programs, online contests, arts, and musical activities, among others.
"This will eventually help the young avoid suicidal thoughts," she said, adding that a hotline is also provided for the clients' queries.
According to Brown, early teenage pregnancy also contributes to the issue.
With this, the province is already conducting the so-called "Heart to HEART Talk Program."
Siquijor Provincial Health Office has recorded a total of 150 teenage pregnancies and 12 HIV cases in 2020 based on data from the health centers.
Siquijor town, with the highest number of cases, has 42; Larena, 20; Enrique Villanueva, 8; Maria, 22; San Juan 24; and Lazi, 34.
Also citing social media as one of the factors, the vice governor said most of the young people now rely on social media as the source of entertainment and information or simply as their creative outlet, as she encouraged everyone to use it for good.
"We should use social media in a positive way, not as a source of fake news, but as a tool or platform for sharing good news that would uplift the spirits of the people especially the youth," she said. (rac/PIA7-Siquijor/Donaruch B. Samson)