On October 13, 2022, the Literacy Coordinating Council (LCC) Secretariat joined the Learning Session on Mental Health for Central Office (CO) Personnel at DepEd NCR RELC in Marikina City, in celebration of the 2022 National Mental Health Week. Spearheaded by the Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Service (DRRMS), in collaboration with the Bureau of Human Resource and Organizational Development-Employee Welfare Division (BHROD-EWD) and the Bureau of Learner Support Services-School Health Division (BLSS-SHD), the said activity catered to CO staff representing their respective offices, bureaus and/or services. The objectives of this learning session was to strengthen the understanding and knowledge of the DepEd CO staff on mental health and its related services, realize the importance of mental health in the education sector, raise advocates for mental health, and emphasize the integration of mental health wellness across the programs and projects within DepEd.
The relative learning session started with a mindfulness activity facilitated by the DRRMS followed by the Opening Remarks of Ms. Ronilda R. Co, Director IV of DRRMS. During her talk, she elaborated on the mental health-related supports that the DRRMS has been providing especially onset of the pandemic, such as conduct of psychosocial supports, provision of technical assistance to selected DepEd offices in establishing/managing mental health programs, and forging of partnerships with The Cultural Center of the Philippines, Psychological Association of the Philippines, Unilab, Inc., Save the Children, among others.
Dir. Co also stressed that the heads of offices provide the visions and strategies but it is the employees who actually work on them. “The office can only go as far as the employees can go. There is a need to take care of them,” as she dubbed. She also added that resting should not only happen when one feels exhausted but must always be mindful of. She ended her speech by reminding everyone that in everything that is done, the heart should always be present, and not just the brain.
After the Opening Program, the participants listened and learned a lot from the resource speakers. In the morning session, Dr. Joffrey E. Quiring, talked about the Mental Health in the Philippines while Mr. Erickson A. Amion shared valuable concepts on The Importance of Mental Health in Education Sector. Meanwhile, Dr. Dinah Palmera P. Nadera tackled the Case Studies about Mental Health Education, followed by Ms. Dhanika Austine K. Garcia, ending the afternoon session with a Mental Health Advocacy. Topics pondered on during the learning session were the definition of mental health, stressors and their effects to mental health, signs of mental health problems, situation of mental health in schools, ways to improve mental health and their benefits, case studies concerning mental health wellness and mental health advocacy.
After the plenary sessions, the participants proceeded to the break-out session where each group came up with a poster in respond to the questions: 1) What is a Mentally Healthy DepEd ? and 2) How can the CO personnel advocate for it in the Department? Afterwards, all five groups were given the opportunity to share their respective outputs.
At the end of the day, Dr. Co expressed her gratitude to the Technical Working Group and reiterated to the group the importance and impact of checking on people, specifically one’s staff, because it also adds to the perspective of the whole team. She promoted collaboration among the participants and reminded everyone to always practice compassion to oneself and to others.
Before the participants parted ways, they were asked of their commitments on promoting and sustaining sound mental health, and were instructed to put them into sticky notes before finally posting them in the wall. The group understood that the last activity meant that everyone needed each other’s back in fulfilling their commitments. After all, we are all in this together.
The LCC Secretariat (LCCS) regularly responds to various invitations from DepEd offices and all other literacy stakeholders to extend its support towards achieving literacy for all, including the mental health wellness. The LCCS joins in the promotion and spreading of awareness on mental health wellness among all Filipinos. By attending in such activities, the Council gains wider perspective and insights, especially coming from the lived experiences at the grassroots level that are essential in coming up with policy recommendations beneficial to the communities.
Jem Beryline S. Bualat
PDO II, LCC Secretariat