December 5, 2023

The mental and physical health condition of information officers and media workers play a pivotal role in relaying relevant information to the public amid daily pressures, according to the Cordillera Administrative Region Media Education on Nutrition (CAR-MENu).

“The media and information sector is a pressure-filled industry. We write reports every day, and we face a lot of pressure from deadlines,” Rima Opiña, a reporter for the Baguio Midland Courier and president of CAR-MENu, said during a webinar on Oct. 10.

The  webinar series was attended by about 250 online and face-to-face participants from the different line agencies, local government units, and practicing journalists who discussed workplace stress management strategies and managing stress eating without stressing out.

Founded by the National Nutrition Council (NNC) in 2011, the CAR-MENu is a network of regional journalists who help advocate for healthy lifestyles and for media outfits to carry and publish stories on health and nutrition.

The group conducts seminars, webinars, and distribute vegetable seeds to drum up backyard gardening, and organize breastfeeding lectures.

“We see a correlation between physical health and mental health that is why we opted to come up with these topics specifically for information officers and media practitioners who are also affected by stress, thus affecting their delivery of information,” Opiña said.

The NNC created the CAR-MENu to combat the nationwide dearth of nutrition-focused stories. Together with the media, they initiated an information and education campaign to underscore the worth of physical and mental health in the program.

Opiña said the members who write stories about health and nutrition are personally adopting a healthy lifestyle.

“From a regimented lifestyle, some have started doing physical activities, especially when they felt their health failing. We also watch our diet by not eating so much free food during press conferences,” she said.

Dr. Pelin Belino, a professor of nutrition and dietetics at the Benguet State University, said people tend to go into “emotional eating” when they are stressed, anxious, depressed, sad, and nervous.

“Many people have experienced the sensation of relief from cozy pasta, ice cream, or the satisfying crunch of potato chips after a particularly stressful day. Food can be more than just fuel to the body but a brief coping mechanism to combat stress,” she said.

Ricky Ducas, head of the Baguio Health Service Office’s Mental Health Unit, emphasized the direct relationship between physical and mental health.

“When the mind is sick, it cascades to the physique, you start to feel ill. Let us not just care for ourselves physically, but we must also ensure that we are mentally fine,” he said.–PNA