August 12, 2020 – To ensure the mental stability of the top leaders at the bureau, Secretary Leonor Magtolis Briones emphasized the need of helping each other as she led the fourth and final group session of the Kaginhawaan of Top Leaders of the Department of Education (DepEd) on July 31.

“I thought that we need to assure each other in the department that we are for each other and that we will hold each other’s hands. That we are going to be together because that magnitude of the change that DepEd is facing is so much greater than perhaps what other departments are facing,” Secretary Briones said in her inspiring message.

Secretary Briones pointed out her experiences during the pandemic, especially when she was infected by COVID-19, and how she carried on in leading the department’s initiatives for the upcoming school year 2020-2021.

“I am very happy that this little exercise that we are engaged in has really taken place and what pushed me to suggest it [Director] Roni [Co] and the others is that I was also undergoing the same, if not much more, intense degree of anxiety, of fear and insecurity as DepEd has been adjusting and planning, and trying to make sure that education continue even as we have this pandemic,” she added.

The event, spearheaded by the Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Service (DRRMS), served as a culminating activity for the series of psychosocial support activities held for the members of the Management Committee (ManCom) to make sure that their psychosocial well-being and mental health are taken care of.

In the session entitled ‘Isolated but not alone: “Hindi ka nag-isa”’, Dr. Lourdes Ladrido-Ignacio, a Professor Emeritus at the University of the Philippines, discussed various concept inclined with mental health and said that social and spiritual needs are ought to be fulfilled to have a healthy life.

Following the talk, an activity called ‘Ginhawa: Well-being in Everyday Life’, which was led by Dr. Henrietta Espanola, an Associate Professor at the West Visayas State University, was conducted to focus on finding silence through Zen meditation.

All of the participants were advised to do the proper posture, relaxation and breathing techniques as they were encouraged to lend time for themselves to meditate or find peace as a form of break and to take care of their mental health amidst the challenges the Department is facing because of the pandemic.

The previous sessions covered various topics and activities such as understanding the different dimensions of psychosocial well-being, how to achieve kaginhawaan (wellness) in one’s daily life and its relationship to the core essentials of leadership, Zen meditation, self-care techniques, application of arts-based coping strategies, and other concepts related to psychosocial recovery, resilience, and wellness.

The Kaginhawaan for Top Leaders of DepEd sessions is part of the Mental Health and Psychological Support Services (MHPSS) initiatives of the Department of Education that was commenced last May 6.