July 21, 2024

The city council during its regular session on April 20 discussed issues regarding the mental health status of frontline workers and the youth during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Authorities in professional counseling briefed the council on the urgent need to address mental health challenges experienced by frontline workers as the entire Luzon enters its sixth week under the enhanced community quarantine.

Philippine Mental Health Association Baguio chapter Executive Manager Christine Camsol and Angeli Bustillo, vice chair of the Integrated Professional Counselors Association of the Philippines, said health care providers and other essential workers in the city need psychosocial debriefing to help them ward off anxiety disorders and clinical depression.

Camsol suggested a weekly debriefing session for the frontline workers, including barangay officials. However, with the amount of responsibility placed on frontline workers which hinders the conduct of a face-to-face debriefing session, she said an alternative would be to call the PMHA’s hotlines.

Councilor Michael Lawana said he had observed a drastic change in the temperament of barangay officials since the onset of the quarantine due to the multitude of problems they encounter.

“May hindi na natutulog at naliligo. And if you talk to them, parang palagi silang galit,” Lawana said.

Ricky Ducas, founder of the Anxiety and Depression Support Group-Baguio, said he is currently working with councilors Levy Lloyd Orcales and Joel Alangsab to push for the conduct of a debriefing program for the city’s frontline workers.

Orcales, chair of the committee on youth and welfare development, earlier expressed concern on the youth in the city as many of them are suffering from isolation and fear brought about by the Luzon-wide community quarantine.

He also reported there are hundreds of students in the city who cannot return to their hometowns due to the travel ban. Restriction on mobility and other challenges faced by the youth take a toll on their mental well-being, he said.

Orcales also narrated an incident involving a 20-year-old female resident of Aurora Hill who attempted to commit suicide but was stopped by relatives. He said the incident is not isolated as many reports had reached his office about stranded students wanting to go home to their hometowns/provinces which resulted in high levels of loneliness and isolation.

“There are some students and individuals who are now experiencing depression, distress, anxiety, and uncertainty because of the current situation,” Orcales said.

In light of these reports, the city council passed a resolution requesting all academic institutions, the PMHA, and other organizations focusing on mental health to provide online psychological support services for distressed students and other individuals in the city.

The resolution calls for the provision of social media platforms in order to intensify the promotion of mental health especially among the youth while the community quarantine continues to take place.

Vice Mayor Faustino Olowan and councilors Joel Alangsab and Benny Bomogao, in their version of the same resolution, echoed the call of the youth council representative saying there is a need to popularize online support services to reach out to those in need on a larger scale.

They mentioned social media, vlogs, teleconference, and blogs as other means to provide psychological support to distressed individuals aside from text messaging and the traditional media.

Orcales and Alangsab also said they are planning to collaborate with the City Health Services Office and concerned individuals for the crafting of an ordinance that will address mental health issues and will promote the wellbeing of people of Baguio. – Jordan G. Habbiling