March 3, 2024

To further help in addressing the mental health concerns of the community primarily the young people, Project Semek aimed at strengthening family love was launched on March 10 in Bokod, Benguet.
Project Semek, which stands for Supporting and Empowering the Mental and Emotional Knowledge of the youth through family love, is a multi-sectoral program geared towards strengthening the bond within the family, which could pave the way for a better understanding of one another. 
Proponent Jobelle Anselmo-Batanes said the project is built upon the testimonies of people who have gone through life, especially those who grew up well through the support of their parents and those whose parents did not show them support and yet grew up well.
“The program is more on the sharing of personal experiences and not psychological theories on handling mental health,” Batanes said.    
Batanes, a teacher at Bokod National High School, Daclan annex said Project Semek targets the young people and their families and also aims to encourage both the young people and their parents or guardians to keep the line of communication open with one another.
One of the offshoots of the project was the “YBokod Love Challenge”, an online contest, which challenged the young people to express their love to their parents or guardians while they summarized in a three to five-minute film.
Ara Mae Casio, a grade 11 student who joined the challenge, said it was a struggle at first to express her love verbally to her parents as they are not used to do that in their family.
Batanes shared many of her students lamented the lack of support from their parents and their lack of showing of love to their children.
She said the lack of expression of affection of parents to their children is rooted in the “shy ak mango (I am shy)” culture of the Ibaloys, that is why in turn, the children also are not expressive of their love to their parents.
The project included talks on various topics such as tips on parenting, proper nutrition in achieving mental health, positive mindset, importance of family love in students’ achievements, five languages of love, among others to address these issues among parents and their children.
Aside from the reinforcing family love, Batanes said they also have formed a support group as dedicate responders to listen to the problems of young people or refer them to the proper authorities depending on their needs.
Mayor Thomas Wales, Jr. said he is supportive of the project and said it will be rolled out to the different barangays of the municipality, adding his administration has been supportive of programs for the youth.
The project, which started in 2018 as a project of the Bokod NHS in Daclan, is in partnership with Bokod local government, General Parent-Teacher Association of Bokod and Bokod Sulphur Spring Multi-Purpose Cooperative. 
The project received positive response from the Department of Education-Cordillera, office of the provincial governor, and the various stakeholders which eyes to rollout the project throughout the region. 
Claire Jimenez of DepEd-Cordillera said the project is one of the interventions that could be used in strengthening mental health of learners and parents, which could encompass problems on teenage pregnancies, drug addiction, and suicide.
She said DepEd-Cordillera Director Estella Cariño plans to rollout the project soon along with the agency’s other programs dedicated to the mental health of learners, teachers, and parents. – Ofelia C. Empian