DepEd recognizes ‘growing' mental health care needs of learners, teachers

Published October 10, 2021, 1:59 PM

by Charissa Luci-Atienza 

One with the nation in celebrating the World Mental Health Day, the Department of Education (DepEd) said Sunday, Oct.10, it recognized the “growing” mental health care needs of its more than 28 million learners and their teachers and parents.

(DepEd Facebook page)

“As we gear towards the future, we become more aware of the importance of our mental well-being which strengthens the call for more inclusive and wider access to mental health services and programs, as highlighted in this year’s theme “Mental Health Care for All: Let’s Make it a Reality”,” DepEd said in a Facebook post on Sunday, Oct. 10.

In a four-page memorandum dated Oct. 7 and signed by DepEd Undersecretary for Administration Alain Del Pascua, DepEd enjoined all units at the Central Office, field offices, and schools to initiate or participate in activities related to the observance of the 2021 World Mental Health Day on Oct. 10 and the 2021 National Mental Health Week on Oct. 11 to 16.

“As the 2021 World Mental Health Day falls on a Sunday, it is best celebrated through rest and spending quality time with family and loved ones,” read the Office of the Undersecretary for Administration (OUA) Memo 00-1021-0038.

Del Pascua serves as ExeCom-in-Charge of the DepEd Technical Working Group (TAG) on Mental Health.

The memorandum tasks the Bureau of Learner Support Services-School Health Division (BLSS-SHD), in coordination with concerned bureaus and divisions at the Central Office, to lead the conduct of the annual School Mental Health Forum, within the last quarter of the year, in line with the theme of this year’s celebration.

Del Pacua said the forum serves as the culmination of the ongoing series of Coordination Meetings organized by BLSS-SHD with School Mental Health Coordinators and other concerned offices regarding the implementation of the School Mental Health Program.

He noted that selected member-offices of the DepEd TWG on Mental Health, including the BLSS-SHD, the Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Service (DRRMS), the Bureau of Human Resource and Organizational Development (BHROD), and Public Affairs Service (PAS), are collaborating to hold virtual activities and campaign messages that will be posted or streamed via the DepEd Philippines Facebook page and other official pages.

The activities include DepEd Mental Health Care Videos – daily videos amplifying the theme of the celebration; Kwento ng Katatagan— social media content series will feature the mental health journey of selected DepEd Personnel at this time of pandemic; and Coordinators’ Meeting on the Implementation of the School Mental Health Program.

Kwento ng Katatagan seeks to provide a safe space for the personnel to share their experiences to inspire others.

“In view of the ongoing pandemic, virtual activities shall be preferred. Conduct of face-to-face activities, where allowed or may be held, shall be strictly guided by the updated required health standards,” read (OUA) Memo 00-1021-0038.

“Activities may be webinars, online conversations, online consultations, or virtual trainings, but may also include “mental health breaks” where personnel are given time during work hours to apply the learning they have acquired in previous mental health activities (e.g., one to two hours devoted for the practice of mindfulness exercises taught in previous webinars).”

DepEd said funding for the conduct of the school activities may be sourced from the budget for maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE), subject to the usual accounting and auditing rules and regulations.

Activities to be led by the School Mental Health Coordinators may be charged to the program support funds downloaded by BLSS-SHD, as may be available, it said.

DepEd “recognizes the growing mental health care needs of our learners, teachers, parents, and other stakeholders and continuously comes up with programs that will help them.”