Addressing work-related mental health issues of teachers

By | September 26, 2020
Dra. Carolina Uno-Rayco, National Executive Director of the Philippine Mental Health Association

The sudden shift in the way education is delivered in the country was truly jolting, but it can also be the best time to learn new methods in teaching and learning. However, the move by the Philippine education system to a “new normal” vector may also bring certain transition issues not just physically but also mentally.

Everyone is affected by the pandemic in different ways. Psychosocial concerns include stress, anxiety, and depression. Prolonged and chronic stress can lead to anxiety that manifests through body aches and pains. Depression can already be pre-existing but can also be triggered by the crisis and may become excessive and affect one’s daily functions.

To help take care of educators, Globe Telecom’s “#StartANewDay – Let’s Talk About Mental Health: A Forum for Educators” addressed this topic in partnership with the Department of Education-Disaster Risk Reduction Service (DepEd-DRRMS). The session was part of the DepEd-DRRMS Wellness Check Series and discussed ways on how educators can detect and overcome work-related mental health problems.

One of the speakers, Dra. Carolina Uno-Rayco, National Executive Director of the Philippine Mental Health Association (PMHA), noted the importance of teachers doing a self-check of their mental health based on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. “Self-care is just a matter of mindset and is not selfish. You cannot give what you don’t have. So it is important for educators to prioritize self-care first before they can take care of and do better things for others,” she said.

Rayco offered some strategies to cope with the situation such as encouraging social connectedness by reminding co-teachers, students, even family and friends of one’s presence with the help of technology. But at the same time, she suggested digital detoxification so teachers won’t be overloaded with information from the internet where they’d feel overwhelmed or depressed. Teachers can also promote help-seeking behaviors if they feel that something is not right and is affecting their relationship with others.

For Ronald John Recio, Clinical Psychologist and Assistant Professor at Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila and also an Advanced Level Clinical Behavioral Therapist, being a mental health professional and educator affords him a unique perspective. “Laban lang (fight on). We have to admit that we were not prepared so we just have to do what we have to do. We can’t blame ourselves because this is the situation. We just have to learn to manage our expectations and what we think of our performance versus the reality of the situation and learn to look at the bigger picture,” he said.

Dr. Ruby Festano Avelino, English Teacher at Santolan High School, a guidance advocate and active journalism adviser at the school, shared ways on how she takes care of her mental health. “Develop to put yourself on the positive side of life. I always seek feedback from my mentors and I also get inspiration from my family (in Capiz). With them around me, I feel that I can do anything in spite of what’s happening around us. The support system is really important.”

Rayco and Recio also hovered on “toxic positivity” to help teachers know if what they’re doing is something positive or they may be reaching a toxic positivity level.

Rayco said that having positive emotions all the time can’t be expected and acknowledging this is important. “We need to actually do something and not just think that we can do it, and be able to do something concrete or positive like learning those new platforms needed in the new normal. Only then will we realize that we were able to overcome the negative emotions.”

Recio, on the other hand, said that “toxic positivity happens when you are lying to yourself that you are okay even if you know that things are not, failure to acknowledge that you yourself are undergoing something, that you’re not okay with what’s happening around you, which then manifest with how you act, how you interact with other people, and affects your train of thought.”

What to do, then? “Just be honest and avoid making statements like ‘we can do it’ even if you know you can’t. Just be truthful to admit that things are difficult, and believe in your own skills and competencies to come up with an action plan and resolve the problem or situation,” Recio said. “We just need to manage our time amid the heavy workload and remind ourselves that what we are doing is for the benefit of the learners.”

As the country’s leading telco, Globe continues to actively support the promotion of mental health in the country through its various programs. It also encourages its customers to support frontliners and patients suffering from COVID-19 and other illnesses via messages of hope at Hope Bank (https://www.facebook.com/groups/267986420517932/), an online support community for those who need upliftment and encouragement. To contribute, members can just post messages photos, artworks, quotes, song lyrics, poems, videos or anything that expresses hope and positivity using hashtag #StartANewDay both on their personal profiles and in the group.

Globe also partnered with organizations like UP Diliman Psychosocial Services (UPD PsycServ) and New Good Feelings (NGF) Mindstrong’s HOPELINE for free counseling or psychotherapy services for frontliners, Covid-19 patients and their relatives.

For more about Globe Telecom, visit www.globe.com.ph.

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