DISTANCE learning and the new work setup, away from the usual peer or support group, is truly challenging, but staying social can help lessen learning-related stress amid the current pandemic.
Noting several reports of students and teachers attempting or having committed suicides allegedly due to learning-related stress (or due to much worst mental condition), Dr. Renato Obra, chief of the Cebu Center for Mental Health Training and Services and former chief of the center for behavioral sciences at the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center, said at times like these, both students and teachers need to be resilient so they can adjust to new situations.
“I will not mention names, but just recently, about two days ago, I talked to a mother whose child who is now in high school locked himself in his room,” he said in a mix of Cebuano and English. “Not only students, but also teachers (have been affected). Just a while ago, I talked to an elementary teacher from Cebu who said that he is also stressed,” he added.
Stress, as defined by the American Psychological Association, is a “normal reaction to everyday pressures, but can become unhealthy when it upsets one’s day-to-day functioning.”
Seven months into the community quarantine in Cebu to contain the spread of Sars-CoV-2, the virus that causes the coronavirus disease 2019, face-to-face classes are still suspended.
Obra said stress can be minimized by doing mundane things like listening to music and taking a break or even doing something as simple as smiling.
There must also be a proper scheduling of activities, including proper time management, to avoid having unnecessary stress, he said.
He said listening to calming music can help a person recover from the feeling of being burned out either from studies or work. So does exercising and talking to people who can help and who will empathize with them, he said.
Spirituality, regardless of religion, can also help overcome negative thoughts, he said.
Moreover, for the younger student population, Obra said it is crucial for parents to closely monitor their activities, especially online including the time spent surfing the internet.
Parents must also know their children’s limitations.
“For me, do not also force the issue to your kids. Do not push them to continue answering activities, for instance, if you can see that they are really burned out as this might lead to to anxiety and depression,” he said in Cebuano.
Employers, as much as possible, should also encourage their employees to take a break as stress caused by a burnout can only make workers more prone to commit mistakes and be irritable, he said.
Obra also called on the public to refrain from irresponsible sharing of alleged suicide cases and issues so as not to trigger “copycat suicides.”
In fact, he said, there are so-called “anniversary suicides” where a victim takes his own life at the same time and in the same manner as the person he looks up to did it.
He said seeking the assistance of or talking to mental health experts is not something to be ashamed of. This should not be stigmatized, he said.
Tawag Paglaum Centro Bisaya, a 24/7 suicide prevention and crisis intervention hotline, is accessible through numbers 0939-937-5433, 0939-936-5433 and 0927-654-1629.