February 9, 2023

An expert on mental health said members of police and military institutions need or must acknowledge the importance of psycho-social support.
Dr. Noemi Jularbal of the Philippine Mental Health Association (PMHA)-Cordillera said those who belong to institutions like the Philippine Military Academy must undergo an individual psychological evaluation.
She made the statement in relation to the maltreatment issue that has become the unwritten and unspoken tradition of PMA cadets and which has overwhelmed the academy in the past weeks after the death of a young cadet who was maltreated by his upperclassmen.
As the PMA is instituting reforms to stop maltreatment among the members of the Cadet Corps, Jularbal said among the improvements should be the conduct of a one-on-one psychological evaluation of the cadets.
“Because of their number, I think the cadets are not given a one-on-one mental health evaluation, which PMA should (include in the reforms). The cadets need to undergo psychological evaluation individually,” Jularbal said.
She also shared the massive call for PMA to be stricter in implementing the Anti-Hazing Law inside the military institution for the practice to stop because young cadets who have suffered from maltreatment from their upperclassmen seek revenge when their time comes.
Jularbal added only the people inside PMA can tell if the culture of violence really exists in the academy because no one talks about it.
“It is a silent culture and maybe violence is selective because on the outside, they (cadets) present themselves as peaceful people.”
PMHA-Cordillera Executive Manager Christine Gina Camsol, meanwhile, said they are always willing to provide psycho-social support not only to individuals but also to groups or institutions that seek their help.
“The rule in psycho-social support is that you wait for the person or the group to seek your help. It must not be you going to them. But we at the PMHA promote mental health. We conduct campaigns. For the PMA, we invite their (guidance) counsellors when we conduct trainings or seminars,” Camsol said.
For the Philippine National Police, the mental health experts said they are willing to tie up with the institution so they could offer debriefing among the members.
Jularbal, however, said the challenge with the PNP is that it is a male-dominated institution and generally, males do not want to talk about their psychological health.
Because of the nature of their job, Jularbal said police officers need to undergo debriefing every two weeks or once a month so that they could vent out their emotions about what they have been through such as when they helped in a rescue or responded to an accident.
She said regular debriefing among the cops is one way of ensuring their mental health. The Philippines is observing Mental Health Month in October. – Jane B. Cadalig