May 6, 2020 — Acknowledging the extraordinary pressure to respond to the ever-changing situations arising from the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Education (DepEd) held a psychosocial support session to the Management Committee titled “Towards Psychosocial Well-being and Mental Health: Kaginhawaan of Top Leaders of the Department of Education” last May 6, 2020.

Organized by the Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Service (DRRMS), Professor Emeritus from the University of the Philippines (UP) and former president of the World Association for Psychosocial Rehabilitation (WPAR) Dr. Lourdes Ladrido-Ignacio discussed the importance of ensuring the psychosocial wellbeing of leaders and the essence of ginhawa (well-being) among the leaders of DepEd as it affects all aspects of their decision-making.

“It is important for leaders to take care of their well-being dahil doon niya huhugutin ang lakas para maglingkod sa iba” she said.

Given the current situation and prevailing uncertainties, she explained that stress and sadness are normal reactions to an abnormal event. She also recognized that balancing personal and professional responsibilities while working from home can be difficult and overwhelming.

Ladrido-Ignacio reiterated that it is normal to feel stress and tension given the current situation while citing that there is “growth in crisis” especially when one manages to maintain resilience despite difficulties.

Despite the increasing number of mental health concerns, the UP Professor Emeritus advised the participants to be careful in using clinical terms such as depression and anxiety when referring to their emotional reactions to the so-called ‘new normal’.

The discussion was followed by a Zazen session, a type of meditation practice that focuses on breathing and silencing the mind to release tension and sensitize emotion, to demonstrate how one can manage stress and emotion using meditation.

The webinar-workshop was followed by a second session which zoomed in on the individual psychosocial well-being through introducing different strategies like Psychological First Aid, Mindfulness Meditation, Arts-based Coping Strategies, and Zazen Meditation. Speakers from the Psychological Association of the Philippines, Brahma Kumaris Philippines, Cultural Center of the Philippines, and Zen Center Manila provided the lecture-workshops. It was attended by 108 Management Committee Member including the Schools Division Superintendents or their representatives.

DepEd DRRMS will hold a series of focused psychosocial support sessions for the Department following the conduct of the webinar-workshop.