By: Lizbeth E. Martinez, MT1
SDO Laguna, Pagsanjan Sub-office
Francisco Benitez Memorial School
Health and safety protocols have always been looked into since the resumption of face-to-face classes. Still, we need to look deeper into the word ‘health’. In terms of its definition as a general idea, health umbrellas physical and mental aspects of a person’s life. Most of the time, we focus health on the physical aspect, but are we really healthy in terms of our mental parts of life?
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 16.8% of Filipino students aged 13 to 17 have attempted suicide at least once within a year before the 2015 Global School-based Student Health survey. Among Filipino children aged 5 to 15, 10% to 15% are affected by mental health problems.
The COVID19 pandemic has tested our physical and mental well-being as we were put under restrictions that hindered our normal lives. Our learners, being very vulnerable to these kinds of events, was not able to cope properly with the ever-changing events in our world; thus; our role as educators become more important than ever.
As early as December last year, the Department of Education (DepEd)-Disaster Risk Reduction Management Service (DRRMS) launched mental health helpline system consisting of contact information from different organizations to support learners, teachers, and the public in times of mental and psychological distress.
According to Dr. Gia Sison of the Youth for Mental Coalition, “The COVID-19 pandemic negatively impacts our mindset and moods in many ways. We’re all adjusting, it leads to highlighted emotion. Madali kang ma-trigger.”
As per their data, over 1,115 calls from the public are received from the crisis hotline National Center for Mental Health, and they are helping so that they could lend a hand to certain individuals who have mental issues.115 calls are from people who are experiencing suicidal thoughts with an average of 53 per day.
“I have a lot of insecurities and thoughts, and sometimes I would stay awake po kasi wala po akong makausap dito and even if I try, sasabihin lang po sa akin na, “ah drama lang yan, wag kang masyadong nega!””, “Lily”, a 17 year old who is experiencing depression said.
According to “Lily”she is scared to talk to her friends about what she’s going through via messenger because her parents know her facebook password, and she has lost interest in her hobbies such as playing ukulele and painting.
She goes on to say that additional threats are isolation and loneliness, which can occur even if one is living with their family, and that It’s all about support. We have to listen to understand, instead of to react.
There are a number of existing interventions that focus on the mental health of our learners. This is to acknowledge the circumstances that a Filipino child is subjected to. As the mental well-being of Filipino children continues to be neglected, a subsequent and enduring mental health epidemic can only be expected for years to come. We need to work on and revise these strategies to hinder the long-term effect of mental health issues on our learners.
Nonetheless, we as educators, along with their parents or guardians, must be able to make ourselves healthy in mind and body to cater to our students’ mental health needs. Our learners’ feeling outcomes may be determined by our response. We can’t argue that some of us have not been okay nowadays, still, we must become healthier in body, and also in our minds.