Online Psychological First Aid training set to address mental health needs of Passi youth

Photos show the MOA signing between DepEd Passi City and ISUFST that sparked the collaboration for a series of mental wellness meetings, talks, workshops, and training in Passi City.

IN AN effort to address the growing mental health concerns among basic education students, the Department of Education’s Dreamline Project for Mental Wellness, in collaboration with the guidance counselors of Iloilo State University of Fisheries Science and Technology (ISUFST), is set to conduct a three-day Online Psychological First Aid (PFA) Training Program. Spearheaded by Dr. Ma. Roselyn Palcat of DepEd Schools Division of Passi City and supported by Dr. Nordy Siason, Jr., President of ISUFST, this initiative will take place from October 11 to October 13, 2023, at the Nine Suite Business Hotel in Passi City.

The Online PFA intends to equip educators and community members with the necessary knowledge and skills to offer immediate para-guidance and para-counseling support through digital channels, adhering to ethical standards, crisis management, documentation, and referrals.

Superintendent Dr. Ma. Roselyn Palcat, the driving force behind the initiative, emphasized the importance of this training, stating, “in these challenging times, the mental well-being of our basic education students is paramount.”

“With the Online Psychological First Aid Training Program, we aim to equip our educators and community members with the skills needed to provide immediate online support,” Dr. Palcat said, adding, “we want to ensure that our youth receive the assistance they need, especially when they face emotional distress or crises.”

For his part, ISUFST President Dr. Nordy Siason, Jr., echoed this sentiment, saying, “collaborating with DepEd on this vital program is a significant step in addressing the mental health needs of the Ilonggo youth in general, and the learners from Passi City in particular.”

He further said: “We understand that the digital realm plays a crucial role in today’s communication, and this training will enable non-professionals to provide effective and ethical online psychological first aid. It’s about empowering our community to support one another, making Passi City and the fourth district of Iloilo that it is a part of a more resilient and caring place for our students and youth.”

The program’s rationale stems from the recognition of the profound impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health, particularly among students facing disruptions in education and daily routines. Additionally, the digital era has highlighted the importance of online communication as the primary mode of interaction, making it essential to provide timely assistance through these platforms.

Given the limitations in the availability of formal counseling services, the Online PFA Training Program, designed and to be facilitated in by a team of registered guidance counselors and mental health advocates from ISUFST, hopes to empower non-professionals to offer pre-professional support, ensuring students receive timely assistance regardless of formal counseling services’ availability. It covers ethical and legal standards, crisis management skills, documentation, and the ability to make appropriate referrals which are central PFA components, emphasizing effective and responsible online mental health support.

The program’s primary objective is to build a more resilient and supportive community in Passi City by empowering volunteer educators and individuals to be aware of and assist each other’s mental wellness in a proactive way. It underscores that Online PFA is a valuable first aid tool, enabling non-professionals to positively impact the mental health of their community.

During the three-day training, participants will learn to apply key knowledge and skills in delivering online psychological first aid while consistently upholding ethical and legal standards. They will also be equipped to recognize and navigate crisis situations and emergencies within an online psychological first aid framework and execute proper documentation, maintain organized records, and initiate appropriate referrals for online or face-to-face professional intervention sessions.

The program’s structure includes orientation, foundation building, skills enhancement, practical application, capstone projects, and closing activities. It aims to provide participants with a comprehensive understanding of online PFA, ethical and legal standards, crisis management, documentation, and referrals. Hands-on activities, role plays, and group projects ensure that participants gain practical experience and can apply their knowledge effectively.

By the end of this training, it is expected that the 30 participants from Passi City will be better equipped to provide basic but crucial online psychological first aid support, contributing to the well-being and psychological strength of the city’s basic education students and youth.

Not that this event is a crucial component of the broader Katatagan “Cuarto Distrito Mental Health and Resiliency” Program, initiated by Cong. Ferjenel Biron, that aimed at promoting psychological wellness in the 4th District of Iloilo. This program is being implemented by integrating in the homeroom guidance Grades 4-12 the Natasha Goulborn Foundation’s Katatagan ng Kalooban Tungo sa Pagsulong ng Kabataang Filipino or Katatagan Modules. (Herman Lagon)