TAIPEI (The China Post/ANN) — Minister of Education Pan Wen-chung (潘文忠) said Monday that authorities will assist schools in improving counseling services without increasing their administrative burden with constant evaluations.
Speaking at the Legislative Yuan’s Education and Culture Committee (教文委員會) earlier that day, Pan offered to increase ressources in response to reports that the suicide rates among university students have continued to increase.
Taiwan could be facing a mental health crisis with 76 deaths and over 1,000 attempted suicides in schools since the beginning of the year, according to ruling Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) Legislators Ann Kao (高虹安) and Huang Kuo-shu (黃國書).
Kao remarked 59 students died while 1,350 students attempted suicide in 2019; she asked the Ministry of Education (教育部) to further review the school’s counseling manpower.
She stressed that all tertiary institutions in Taiwan should provide student counseling services in line with the “Student Counseling Law” (學生輔導工作評鑑), but only 46 percent offered such services in 2018 because of a lack of resources.
According to NTU president Kuan Chung-ming (管中閔), the National Taiwan University (NTU) has between 21 and 25 adjunct faculty members who are full-time counselors, which is barely within the guidelines.
Last week, an emergency hotline was set up to provide full-time counseling services by different psychiatrists after two alleged suicides and one accident were reported on campus over five days.
The school said that the first student had a long history of physical and mental illness and reportedly used on-campus counseling resources. The second student also received counseling but the third one never contacted the school.
The Ministry of Health and Welfare offers all hours free suicide prevention hotline number (1925), while the Teacher Chang Foundation’s (張老師基金會) hotline is 1980.