NAGA CITY — At least 11,437 students of the Camarines Sur National High School (CSNHS) here have been undergoing training on psychosocial first aid (PFA) to help them continuously commune naturally with their surroundings.
In an interview on Tuesday, Mercy Claro-Estrella, the school’s registered guidance counsellor, said CSNHS learners are not spared from the ills of the Covid-19 pandemic including the fear of contracting the dreaded virus and going through a solitary life in a quarantine facility.
“They were seriously traumatized by the abrupt change in their lives,” she said.
By listening to the students who communicated their ordeals, Claro-Estrella said the school’s seven guidance counsellors and teachers who are members of the core group were able to come up with approaches to soothe the students’ emotional condition and address their social and material needs to help uplift their wellbeing.
A broadcast media report featured an incident during the peak of the pandemic in 2020 in which a student from an undisclosed public secondary school in the city committed suicide due to depression.
Claro-Estrella said they call their advocacy “Pag-anduyog” which is under the CamHigh Salud, the school’s program that takes care of the mental health of students and the teaching and non-teaching personnel of CSNHS.
In a separate interview, CSNHS Principal Sulpicio Alferez III relayed about a mother who asked the school administration to conduct even a simple graduation ceremony because her son wished to be reunited with his classmates and acquaintances as he felt isolated from society.
“Such situations are among the reasons why the school was prompted to conduct a series of PFA training for the students when in-person classes officially reeled off on August 22, this year,” he said.
A memorandum from the Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Services of the Department of Education central office mandates public schools to “check the psychosocial status of learners” through the conduct of support activities that adequately address their psychosocial needs.
It said that psychosocial support activities are imperative in promoting, protecting, and prioritizing the learners’ socio-emotional well-being as they transition back to in-person classes.
Alferez said that as early as December 2020, the school has already conducted similar training which was pioneered with a shortlist of students confronted by the Covid-19 crisis.
City Councilor Gayle Abonal-Gomez, a doctor of psychology who specializes in clinical psychology and has been involved in psychosocial works for disaster and drug recovery, said the PFA training is devised to address the psychosocial needs of people who are undergoing different crises and disasters.
“Students who will be reporting to their face-to-face classes from a lull of more than two years due to pandemic must undergo such training to adjust themselves and be able to cope with and recover from setbacks,” she said.
The results of the PFA training, which were conducted within the first week of face-to-face classes, showed that there is a need for the parents of students to keep open communication with their children, be aware of what their children feel and what they are doing, and learn how to accept their children just as they are.
Abonal-Gomez advised parents/guardians to always show love, appreciation, encouragement, and guidance to their children.
(Jason B. Neola, CEPPIO.)