DepEd urged to tap guidance counselors for students, teachers' mental health

An association of guidance counselors in the country urged the Department of Education (DepEd) to tap them in the provision of mental health and psychosocial support services to students and teachers amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Philippine Guidance and Counseling Association (PGCA), the main association of all guidance counselors in the country, said that the initiatives that would ensure the protection of children against all forms of abuses should be strengthened especially at a time of a pandemic.

“We really want to help DepEd but how can we do that if we’re not given an opportunity to help?” mental health professional Francis Ray Subong said. “How can we help if we’re not even valued -- if we’re given importance, guidance counselors we could give more,” he added.

Subong, who is also a guidance counselor and a career specialist from DepEd, shared that due to the COVID-19 situation in the country, students and teachers need help to cope with the stress and anxiety. “Mental health is a basic aspect and everyone needs it,” he said.

Since guidance counselors are based in schools, Subong said that they should be tapped for psychological first aid (PFA).

“What is happening right now is that DepEd only involves that guidance counselor at the end but when it comes to policy-making, it seems that they are not hearing us,” he explained. “Eventually, the area of guidance and counselling do not seem an utmost priority,” he added.

Subong, who is a Master Teacher at the Iloilo National High School, cited the lack of enough budget for guidance activities and they are also not being provided with training.

“If DepEd only values guidance counselors, we can take care of the PFA and other mental health programs,” Subong said. “DepEd guidance counselors are talented but they’re not given opportunities to show their expertise,” he added.