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DSWD trains staff in psycho-social first aid

In line with its continuing advocacy for mental health, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) conducted a “Training on Digital Mental Health and Psychosocial Support” for 19 staff to become psycho-social first aid providers.

The training aimed at equipping the participants with knowledge and developing their skills competency in providing basic psycho-social interventions to DSWD employees who may need assistance for their overall wellness to ensure their continued productivity at work.

In 2021, the Department launched the “Wireless Mental Health and Psycho-Social Support for Individuals and Families Affected by COVID 19 and other Crisis Situations (WiSUPPORT)” program, which provides a platform of assistance to individuals suffering from heightened anxiety amid the COVID 19 pandemic.

With the WiSUPPORT focusing on clients, the Department realized that a similar program be made accessible to the DSWD employees as part of a strengthened DSWD Mental Health Program. This is also in line with the Department’s role as co-implementer of Republic Act No. 11036 or the National Mental Health Act.

Care for the carers

With the DSWD considered as among the front liners in public service, the Department saw the need to promote the overall well-being of the employees, to include their mental health.

Through the training, more staff can now give psychological first aid and initial response to the mental health needs of the employees.

As part of the training, Dr. Rolando M. Mamaat, psychologist and educator, gave an overview of mental health and over-all psychological well-being. He also discussed the effects of COVID 19 and other crisis to the overall mental health of an individual.

With the provision of mental health and psychosocial health intervention being a complex and delicate issue, the Department invited Mr. Prednison S. Morales to discuss how to provide online mental health and psychosocial support.

Mr. Morales, a registered social worker, is the Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Overall Coordinator of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) – Philippines. He is trained in the field of mental health and psychosocial support.

He further trained the participants by providing application and simulation exercises. He also emphasized that the trained staff can only extend initial response through first aid, emphatic listening, and providing information on available services and conversations. For mental health issues that are more serious in nature and would need further diagnosis and high-level in depth intervention, Mr. Morales advised that immediate referral to professionals be done.

Digitalization in providing mental health support

With the direction to utilize the digital technology to expedite services, the Department is also introducing digitalization in providing mental health services to employees needing assistance.

Under the digitized system, an employee may seek an initial request for assistance via an online system, which would direct him/her to an available psycho-social first aid provider. The administrator of the online system, may also opt to refer the employee to professionals from partner organizations, when the need is urgent and cannot be responded to by a psychosocial first aid provider.

The digitalized system aims to expedite the provision of the mental health support through the efficient use of the online system, to give the client an opportunity to provide his/her mental health condition at their own pace through a short write-up, and to make easy referral of the client to partner organizations with professional psychologists/psychiatrists.

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