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On October 13, 2021, the Bureau of Workers with Special Concerns (BWSC) conducted an orientation on Mental Health via Zoom, for all the personnel.

Ms. Nilda C. Dominguez, Chief of the Program Monitoring and Technical Support Services Division (PMTSSD), said during her opening speech, that the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly changed everyone’s lives, thus putting a toll on the employees’ social, physical, emotional, and mental well-being.

She added that it is one of the main reasons why the Bureau pushed to conduct the said orientation, and also to keep a healthy check on all its employees,

“We hope that we will be able to get a clear perspective on the importance of mental health, identify the internal and external triggers and stressors in our workplace and home, and how we can cope up with them, and apply the activities that promote good practices to help improve our overall psychological well-being,” Dominguez said.

Dr. Agnes Joy Casiño from the Department of Health - National Center for Mental Health discussed how we can navigate through the pandemic, and how we can check our mental health.

As people try to manage during this crisis, Dr. Casiño emphasized that we have different capacities to cope in this trying time, and so being kind is imperative for all of us.

“People say that we are on the same boat during this pandemic. We are not. We are in the same ocean, but not on the same boat,” she added.

She further elaborated who are the people that are most affected during the pandemic, and those are the ones associated with health, people with economic reasons, and lastly, are the ones with social and cultural reasons.

Dr. Casino said that the ones associated with health are those in quarantine due to the virus, people who are immune-compromised, older people, the ones with pre-existing conditions, persons with disabilities, and healthcare and frontline service workers.

“COVID-19 is an isolating disease. It isolates people. Even if you are not infected yet, we already isolate ourselves, especially those who are in quarantine facilities that are away from their support system” she said.

She also mentioned that people with economic, social, and cultural reasons are also the most affected group during this pandemic.

These are the workers of hard-hit industries, displaced workers, solo parents, and those people who may feel socially isolated, facing stigma and discrimination by being infected, and those who have difficulty accessing digital tools.

More than all these, she shared healthy ways to cope with the stress and anxiety during the COVID-19 pandemic.

She said that we always have to be mindful of our words, and we should not invalidate other people’s struggles and feelings.

Dr. Casiño also added that feeling stressed out is by no means a reflection that you cannot do your job, managing our mental health is as important as our physical health, and we should turn to our family and friends for social support.

Building a self-care and resilience plan, and committing ourselves to practice a self-care routine can also help fight away our stress and anxiety.

She said, “Sometimes we do not know how to deal with our problems, so it’s good that we have a plan on how to evaluate ourselves.”

Two of the BWSC employees shared their COVID-19 experiences, Ms. Ma. Mae Piraman and Ms. Jannica Marie Harder, who are both still in quarantine, said that they are both grateful for the support of the Bureau towards their ordeal.

Ms. Kimberly Carmina Diaz also shared her insights during the orientation.  “We are very thankful to you [Dr. Casiño] for your lecture, and to PMTSSD for organizing this activity because this is very timely, and for sure many of us are fighting our own battles silently,” Diaz added.

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