CAITANGAN, MASBATE, May 2, 2023 – The Department of Education (DepEd) has conducted Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) for over 1000 learners, and 100 teaching and non-teaching personnel across the Schools Division of Masbate affected by armed conflict.

Spearheaded by the Disaster Risk Reduction Management Service (DRRMS), together with the Learners Rights and Protection Office (LRPO), the Department held Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) activities from April 25 to 27, in Villahermosa Elementary School and Villahermosa National High School in Cawayan, Masbate, and Locso-an Elementary School and Arriesgado-Sevilleno National High School in Placer, Masbate.

“This is the reality that we need to respond to, and there is an urgency to react to these situations. Anchored on the MATATAG Agenda, our response is to provide a safe environment for our teachers and learners,” Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Service (DRRMS) Director Atty. Christian E. Rivero noted.

Atty. Rivero likewise highlighted the role of the Psychological First Aid (PFA) providers in responding to the needs of the learners and school personnel, especially in challenging times.

On the other hand, the DepEd Regional Office V Lead Representative Ms. Maria Cristina G. Baroso said that the conduct of PFA establishes human connections in a non-intrusive yet compassionate manner with the affected learners and teachers. She added that aside from normalizing and validating feelings, it is an opportunity to share the multiple sources of strengths which can be accessed in the school and community.

Together with 85 PFA providers from SDO Masbate, DepEd-DRRMS and the RO V provided MHPSS to the conflict-affected personnel and learners.

Implementing partners, including Ms. Florina Padilla-Santiago, a psychologist from Psychological Association of the Philippines’ (PAP) MHPSS-Special Interest Group (SIG), and Mr. Kurt Essa Rastrullo, a Registered Guidance Counselor from SDO Legazpi, served as experts and resource persons during the PFA provision and orientation.

Meanwhile, School Governance and Operations Division Chief Education Supervisor Mark Anthony H. Rupa pointed out in the activity that the top priority is the safety of the learners, teachers, and the PFA team. He also reminded the PFA providers to stay calm and remain focused during the deployment of PFA regardless of the adversity of the situation.

According to DepEd-DRRMS, SDO Masbate plans to strengthen capacity of schools to respond to similar situations with the support of the Central Office and Regional Office.