/ 20 June 2021

THE COVID19 pandemic increased cases of depression and anxiety among Filipinos, not sparing young learners, a mental health expert said.

Dr. Bernardino A. Vicente, a member of the Philippine Mental Health Association, said that there was a 25.7 percent surge in suicide incidence in 2020, proof that the pandemic had a great impact on mental health.

“There is no health without mental health,” Vicente said during the webinar organized by the Department of Education and telecom giant Globe.

The fourth TAYO Naman! (Tulong, Alaga, Yakap at Oras para sa mga Tagapagtaguyod ng Edukasyon) session was titled “Understanding and Managing Common Mental Disorders and other Psychological Concerns.”

“Covid19 does not only cause physical health concerns but also psychological disorders. The pandemic is really stressful to almost everyone and is actually the reason why there is an increase in depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders, including suicide,” he said.

Vicente echoed the World Health Organization’s statement that mental and physical health are inseparable.

He explained that positive mental health promotes longer life, slows the aging process, and helps provide a better prognosis when illness strikes. Thus, productive activities, fulfilling relationships, the ability to adapt to change, and cope with adversities are vital in keeping a healthy mind.

Stress from the current situation is also a challenge for educators, students, and their parents who have to cope with online learning and new ways of doing things, he added. Time management, physical activities, relaxation training, continued social support and communication, and proper diet and nutrition can help ease stress.

“In stress management, you cannot manage something that you do not know. So 90 percent of stress management relies on becoming aware of what stresses you. Generally, it may come from you, from your family, or from work. It is not the number of stressors you have, it is the way you carry them,” Vicente added.

He emphasized the need to watch out for red flags of psychological and behavioral manifestations associated with distress and dysfunction since these can help diagnose if a person has a mental disorder.

The session also included panelists from DepEd Zamboanga del Norte Division — Education Program Supervisor Arcelita Zamoras, Medical Officer III Dr. Cheryl Ocupe, and Project Development Officer II Eunice Janolino.

TAYO Naman! is an online Mental Health and Psychosocial Support program designed to help teachers, non-teaching personnel, and parents learn about self-care, wellness, and resiliency.

The webinars are held every Friday until August 20, 2021, from 8:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. and streamed live on DepEd Philippines, DepEd DRRMS, and Globe Bridgecom.