May 15, 2020– Acknowledging how uncertain times creates an impact on a person’s mental health, DepEd premiered its virtual Wellness Check Series to provide Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Services (MHPSS) in its social media platform.

It is streamed live every Friday, 9:00 – 10:30 A.M. at the DepEd Philippines Facebook Page with Filipino Sign Language interpretation.

In its first episode last 15 May 2020, “Kalma Lang ‘Ga!” focused on positive coping strategies to combat the stress and other psychosocial challenges associated with the current pandemic.

“Walang nakakaligtas sa epekto ng COVID-19 hindi lang sa physical aspeto kundi [pati na rin] sa mental health,” DRRMS Director Ronilda Co said as she explained the relevance of MHPSS in ensuring the psychosocial well-being at this critical time.

Professor Mariflor “Yeng” Gatchalian from the Psychological Association of the Philippines CALABARZON-MIMAROPA Chapter spearheaded the discussion on positive coping strategies where she explained that the drastic changes in a person’s routine brought about physical distancing in the time of COVID-19 can lead to associated mental health challenges. These include reduced income, loss of freedom, and separation from loved ones.

Gatchalian also noted that those who are identified as more vulnerable to the virus are also more vulnerable to the mental health impacts of the pandemic.

Furthermore, she reiterated that stress is a normal response to the drastic changes brought about by the current situation and such a response might continue for a couple of weeks.

On the topic of self-care, Gatchalian warned against maladaptive coping mechanisms such as procrastination, and reminded the online viewers that “anything that is too much is not good,control what you can control.”

“Kalma Lang ‘Ga” episode was able to reach an approximate of 190,000 views. It is a part of DepEd’s current MHPSS initiatives which includes the provision of Psychological First Aid (PFA) and the daily issuance of Fostering Wellness, Solidarity and Service collection of activities. These activities are based on and guided by the Inter-Agency Standing Committee’s Intervention Pyramid for MHPSS in Emergencies.

The next episodes include “Tara, Fact Check Muna” to combat misinformation and reinforce responsible digital citizenship, “Oyayi: Experience Sound Bath Meditation” to provide an alternative way of calming the mind, and “Let It Grow” to emphasize the connection of humans to its environment and provide tips on urban gardening.

The Wellness Check Series is organized by the Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Service (DRRMS) and Bureau of Human Resource and Organizational Development Employee Welfare Division (BHROD-EWD) with the support of the Public Affairs Service (PAS). It is part of the MPHSS of the Brigada Eskwela-Oplan Balik Eskwela joint implementation and the Learning Continuity Plan (LCP).