January 30, 2023

An official of the City Health Services Office has encouraged the public and frontline service workers, especially those in the barangays who feel that the enhanced community quarantine is already affecting their mental health, to visit health centers nearest them.

The City Human Resources Management Office has recently been asked by the city council to hire on job order basis psychologists to assist residents and barangay officials who have been exhibiting stress and anxiety because fear of infection from a disease that has killed millions worldwide; due to exhaustion for working in the frontlines; and because of isolation especially students who are stranded in Baguio.

While acknowledging reports of increased cases of anxiety among the general population, Asst. City Health Officer Celia Flor Brillantes does not see the need to hire a psychologist at the moment, but she suggested for the public to avail of services at health centers which have personnel trained to do counseling.

Last week, the city councilors reported that barangay officials, especially those who have been working double time since the imposition of the Luzon quarantine, have become irritable. Association of Barangay Councils president Michael Lawana attributes this to fatigue and stress. Sangguniang Kabataan Federation president Levy Lloyd Orcales also said there are reports about stranded students who have experienced bouts of anxiety and depression because they do not have a close family member around.

In case more people need help from psychologists, Brillantes said the CHSO need only to strengthen its ties with groups dealing with people with anxiety or depression. The CHSO also has a 24-hour hotline to cater to those who cannot and do not have the time to seek consult at health centers.

Diagnosis and prescription, on the other hand, should be done solely by a psychiatrist, Brillantes clarified.

Since the lockdown, the Psychiatry Department of the Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center has been practicing tele-psychology counseling services.

In the 2018 Philippine Mental Health Act, primary mental health services are integrated at the city, municipal, and barangay levels.

Mental health services at the community level include wellness promotion, prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation through peer support, education, livelihood, and employment, social services, and other community support services. – Rimaliza A. Opiña