By: Rinia C. Dorado, Master Teacher 1
Crisanto Guysayko Memorial Elementary School
No one was exempted from the effects and aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. Teachers, students, parents, and the whole community suffered a lot during those times – well, until now – in terms of our overall well-being; however, the psychological effect of this pandemic is something that had become part and parcel of our overall health as it had caused unbelievably negative effect on most of us.
As teachers and learners have struggled during remote learning, the department became aware of the things which are needed to be patched up before sending these students and teachers back inside the classroom and continue education in the new normal. The Department of Education (DepEd) emphasized the psychological health of teachers and learners should be at an optimum level for learning to happen inside the classroom. A healthy mind with a healthy body is something that should be of utmost importance, thus the launching of different programs which advocate for this.
DepEd Memorandum no. 93, series of 2022 titled 2022 National Health Month is a memo of the Department of Education (DepEd) that invites all offices and schools to join the observance of the 2O22 National Mental Health last October, during which the National Mental Health Week (October lO-14, 2022) and the World Mental Health Day (every October l0) were commemorated. This memo reiterated some activities which are recommended for the observance of the memo. Some activities are lesson integration in which mental health and concepts are to be integrated into the lessons of the teachers, and social media initiatives where students are to promote messages about mental health on their news feed.
Mental health is essential to become a highly functioning individual. To be able to protect and support our mental health and that of our learners is already a win-win situation for us. To be equipped with the proper knowledge, idea, and guidance from our department, psychiatric disorders such as depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is preventable.
Also, another initiative of our government to address our mental health is Psychological First Aid (PFA). It could be remembered that this was launched during the middle of the pandemic time, and the purpose is to reduce initial distress and trauma caused by all the events happening around. PFA is an evidence-informed intervention model to assist students, staff, and families in the immediate aftermath of a disaster or emergency event and can be used by any trained staff member or school administrator. By using these brief and effective interventions in the form of the five steps of PFA (Listen, Protect, Connect, Model, and Teach), schools can provide a long-lasting, positive influence on trauma-related stress.
Psychological support is a must for everyone as we are all still in the same boat. We are still not yet free from this pandemic and future crisis that may arise. The recent event is a call for each one of us to address issues worthy of discussion and become resilient in any difficulty we might face.
Every one of us – especially our leaners — is going through a tough time psychologically with all the changes that had happened. Being able to support your mental health and well-being is crucial as this can determine a make-or-break situation. Knowing who to call, and how to support your mental health and well-being, and that of our students is a key factor in providing a conducive and safe learning environment. Mental health was a stigma and continues to be until now; nevertheless, with all our efforts in aiding a solution for this and the support of our government, we know that we can improve our initiatives on this specifically in this new ‘uncertain’ normal of education.