As cliché as is may sound, phrase “it’s okay not to be okay” is probably what students would want to hear the most during this time.
Recognizing the impact of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, the Department of Education (DepEd) -through its Disaster Risk Reduction Management Service (DRRMS) - came up with a series of online mental health and psychosocial support service for Filipino learners.
For secondary learners, the DepEd-DRRMS came up with “Online Kalusugan at Kaligtasan ng Kabataan” or “OKKK!” where resource speakers and special guests share advice and experiences to help students overcome mental health challenges at this time of pandemic. Select students from various schools also join the sessions as panelists.
During the 7th episode of OKKK! streamed on DepEd Facebook page and DepEd Youtube channel on Saturday, March 27, DepEd tapped actress and mental health advocate Jasmine Curtis-Smith to share some pieces of advice to students who might be struggling in many aspects of their lives at this time.
“Sadness or extreme sadness, normal lang maramdaman iyan - parte iyan ng ating buhay at pagkatao (It’s normal to feel sadness or extreme sadness because that is part of our lives),” said Curtis-Smith in a video message.
Curtis-Smith, who is also a World Vision Ambassador, noted that recognizing the feeling of sadness is “part of the awareness on mental health” which is one of the most important lessons learned by many people this part year.
“I’m sure, you often hear the word ‘resiliency’ pertaining to fellow Filipinos but as a student, your resilience is shown when you continue your studies despite the challenges and changes especially during this time,” Curtis-Smith said in a mix of English and Filipino.
Due to the disruption in education brought about by COVID-19, DepEd is currently implementing a distance learning set-up where students learn their lessons at home.
Studying at this time, Curtis-Smith said, might be challenging but there is a need to continue for the future of the Filipino learners. “Keep striving for youth excellence and study well,” she said. “Just being there, showing up and being present, is excellence in itself so don’t underestimate this,” she added.
While there might be times when sadness can be overwhelming, Curtis-Smith urged students and other Filipino youth to take small steps. “We can overcome this by talking the small steps like getting up, showing up and maybe, slowly, we can encourage ourselves to always be present in the moment and cure that feeling of uncertainty and sadness,” she added.
Curtis-Smith also urged students to depend on their support systems, if they have one. “Anytime you need a shoulder to cry on, make sure to keep them in mind also make sure to ask them if they are okay because we need to take care of each other,” she added.
The online initiative also featured the country’s top psychologist Dr. Ma. Lourdes Carandang along with some student panelists. It was organized in collaboration with World Vision, Psychological Association of the Philippines, Save the Children and Cultural Center of the Philippines.