CONGRATULATIONS to us Filipinos for being through the pandemic for a year and four months now (and counting) and we’re still here. Perhaps barely making it to the next few days without bruises, but we’re still here and that counts. While some of us have family members and friends who tested positive of Covid-19, there are those who struggle on a different level.
As they say, every single one is affected by Covid-19, whether direct exposure to the virus, loss of a job, homesickness, or anxiety. While our lifestyle has tremendously changed because of the movement restrictions and other health protocols, our daily needs remain the same. There was no pause button to allow us to first absorb the abrupt changes. There was no time given for us to adapt. Many of us didn’t have a choice but to go along with our day to day lives with tremendous change, adapting as we go. Children still have school work, people are asked to stay at home but many can’t do so in a bid to earn enough money to feed the family, and we still have bills to pay.
The entire pandemic is a trial-and-error system in the economic and health sector. But most of us are experiencing a pandemic for the first time and a trial-and-error system may be forgivable. However, not many talk about this, but it has taken a toll on the people’s mental health -- regardless of age. Mental health is not just a millennial’s issue or a senior citizen’s issue. Being far from family alone, not knowing where to get the family’s next meal, and other nasty things on social media can trigger one’s anxiety.
In April this year, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio admitted that her mental health condition herself is not okay amid the pandemic.
“I’ve been advised several times to undergo stress debriefing. But I’m not that person who can express one’s feelings to anyone, so I don’t think I can talk to a counsellor. We may just end up staring at each other, or what may happen is that I may end up giving the counsellor stress debriefing. It happens to me all the time,” she said in her program via Davao City Disaster Radio 97.5 FM.
She shared that sometimes she would end up listening to her colleagues’ personal problems and giving them advice to the best of her capacity.
“Even though I don’t know how to give stress debriefing, there were a few instances, particularly at the start of the pandemic. Sometimes I didn’t know what to answer but I tried because some people just needed someone to talk to and I happened to be that person whom they wanted to open up to,” she said.
Despite this, the mayor understands the mental health struggles that people experience and face amid the pandemic. People may have different ways of dealing with their feelings but she advised Dabawenyos to seek professional help when they feel the need to.
The city government of Davao launched last year the “Free Telecounselling Psychosocial Services”.
For those who are interested, you may call 0945-1840-793 (Globe) or 0961-8556-885 (Smart).
Meanwhile, the Ateneo de Davao University (AdDU)’s Center of Psychological Extension and Research Services (Copers) also extends their counselling services online for people who feel the need to talk to someone. If you are interested, kindly fill out this form: https://tinyurl.com/COPERSTelehealth