Recognizing how the COVID-19 pandemic affected the mental health of students and teachers, the Department of Education (DepEd) will conduct nationwide psychosocial support sessions and other related activities for them a week prior to the Oct. 5 school opening.
Education Secretary Leonor Briones explained the effort is nothing new and is already a “built-in” component in DepEd under its Disaster Risk Reduction Management System (DRRMS).
“Every so often, we have tragedies like armed conflicts, typhoons, volcanic eruptions and loss of families, so we provide this,” she said.
However, Briones noted the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is on a different level.
“Relationships are being threatened in the home, in the school... there’s fear, anxiety, and there are so many unknowns so people get very anxious,” she said. “If we’re anxious and afraid, how much more for a child - especially for a child who has not been in school for months?”
Undersecretary Alain Pascua added, “Since the school opening was moved to Oct. 5, we will be conducting nationwide, simultaneous psychosocial support activities and sessions a week before that."
“Essentially, all our guidance counselors in the field are undergoing their own psychosocial support events, activities, or programs in each division or schools,” Pascua explained. “But one week prior to the Oct. 5 school opening, we will be instituting psychosocial support activities and sessions for students in coordination with all the guidance counselors in the different schools and divisions nationwide."
The sessions, Pascua said, will also include other health-related topics.
Meanwhile, Briones said DepEd officials - both in the national and local levels - are also undergoing psychosocial support activities and sessions.
“For this particular challenge, we are tapping national professional organizations of psychologists and counselors because they are objective and what they share are grounded based on theories and realities of life,” she said.
Briones shared that she herself also sat in one session.
“Everywhere you turn, there is criticism - it seems that you’re not doing anything right,” she said. “It helps if there’s sharing and we have to accept and deal with this phenomena and look at it as rationally as possible - as trained academics and educators."