Providing an intervention to help employees cope with the new normal work conditions, the Human Resources Development Office (HRDO) and the University Health Services (UHS) spearheaded a health and wellness webinar entitled “Strengthening Employees’ Mental Health in the New Normal” last November 19, 2020.
In their messages, Dr. Hernando D. Robles, University President, and Dr. Camilo A. Polinga, Vice President for Administrative and Support Services, emphasized the need to refresh and recover as employees cope in the new setup brought by the pandemic. This was further explained when Dr. Mary Jane D. Tepora, Director of HRDO, gave the participants the rationale behind the activity hoping that it will give relevant strategies to cope with mental difficulties and uplift mental wellness through spiritual intervention.
The first session entitled Understanding Mental Health in the New Normal was delivered by Dr. Louziela P. Masana, licensed psychometrician and current coordinator of the Psychology Program in the T3 Campus (Gen. Trias, Trece and Tanza). She started with asking the current mood of the participants and reminded them that experiencing mental difficulties is normal when facing an abnormal situation but warning signs must be noticed to be addressed. She mentioned some of the possible activities to be done like observing proper breathing, listening to calming music, going for a walk, hugging a pet, talking to a friend, refocusing the mind and avoiding food with too much sugar and caffeine. She also discussed the 6 R’s of Self-Care that include the need to Recognize the symptoms, Reconnect with family and friends, Reflect about goodness and gratitude, Renew about spirituality and philosophy, Reframe the mindset, and Refrain from things that do not help.
Meanwhile, the second talk on “Mental Wellness through Spiritual Upliftment” was delivered by Rev. Carmel Villar-Paet, faculty member of the Center for Pastor Care at Union Theological Seminary. She discussed the benefits of spirituality to mental wellness with her lecture on Rediscovering Filipino Spirituality. She recommended heightening of “kamalayan” and shared the concept of Tambayayong, a community support system practiced from womb to tomb in Leyte. According to her, it came from the words “tabang” which means to help and “yayong” which means to carry. “Manginano” drives people to ask or inquire others while “magpakabana” reminds people to act to lessen the burden one is experiencing.
The third lecture on “Coping Strategies for Mental Difficulties” was discussed by Dr. Rainier B. Umali, psychiatrist and associate professor at Our Lady of Fatima College of Medicine. He talked about depression, anxiety and stress and the ways to deal with them. He also enumerated the signs of depression that include having depressed mood, diminished interest in the daily activities, weight loss or gain, insomnia or hypersomnia, being easily startled, losing energy, feeling hopeless, worthless and helpless, feeling of guilt, and poor cognition. To manage such, Dr. Umali suggested using catharsis, having relaxation process, maintaining positive thinking and making sure there is physical movement. He also mentioned some types of treatments for certain conditions.
After the insightful open forum, Dr. Romeo M. Sanchez, Director of the UHS, gave a recap of the key takeaways from the sessions and reminded everybody to help each other strengthen their mental wellness considering it not only as a timely issue but indeed a significant one.