July 17, 2020 — Recognizing the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic to a person’s mental health, the Department of Education (DepEd), through its Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Service (DRRMS), in coordination with various DepEd Central Office units and partners, launched a series of Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Services (MHPSS) provisions for DepEd personnel.

The first session was conducted on July 13, 2020 for non-teaching personnel while the second session last July 14-16 session was participated by the teaching personnel. This in preparation for the opening of classes this August 24 and as part of the Brigada Eskwela activities.

Undersecretary for BHROD and Planning Jesus Mateo graced the event and underscored the value of mental health. Dir. Anne Rachel Miguel of BHROD and Dir. John Siena of NEAP also provided their insights on the importance of prioritizing one’s well-being.

“The realities of the new normal which includes working from home, lack of physical contact with other family members, friends, and colleagues, and the home-based learning of children can have impacts to a person’s mental and psychosocial health” said Director Ronilda Co of DepEd DRRMS in her opening message.

Participants were reminded that it is important to take care of themselves, and acknowledge that sometimes, “It’s okay not to be okay.” In addition, they were given lessons and tips on how to cope with the different emotions they are feeling because of the pandemic. The provision featured arts-based activities, ways to create safe spaces, guides on time-management and finding balance, and lessons on mindfulness which includes taking care of our minds, cultivating positive thoughts, and being non-judgmental.

Through the lectures and activities provided, participants were able to learn more about normalizing feelings, recognizing common and extreme stress reactions, identifying and expressing needs, and guides to practicing positive coping strategies. They were also reminded that feeling anxious, stressed, and overwhelmed is normal and valid during this challenging time.

In a recent report, the World Health Organization recognized that a person’s mental and psychosocial well-being is also an equally important part of staying safe and healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The resource persons for the activity includes Professor Mariflor “Yeng” Gatchalian, adviser of the Psychological Association of the Philippines Calabarzon-Mimaropa Chapter, JK Anicoche, artistic director of Sipat Lawin Inc. and founding member of Komunidad X, and Marides Virola-Gardional, independent trainer, facilitator and consultant to various development stakeholders in the Philippines and some countries in Asia for their institutional and human resource development needs.

The MHPSS activities were co-organized together with the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP), the Psychological Association of the Philippines (PAP), and Brahma Kumaris Philippines in line with DepEd Order no. 12, s, 2020 or the Adoption of Basic Education Learning Continuity Plan for School Year 2020-2021 in Light of the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency. The provisions were given through a Facebook cluster group where a livestream was shown and was viewed by a total of 11, 000 DepEd personnel.