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Gov't urged to hire more guidance counselors, mental health personnel amid COVID-19 pandemic

Cagayan De Oro City Representative Rufus Rodriguez on Monday urged the government to hire more guidance counselors, psychiatrists, psychologists, and other mental health personnel to help Filipinos cope with mental issues brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a statement, Rodriguez warned government officials and his colleagues in Congress against a possible surge in mental health problems among Filipinos due to the ongoing health crisis.

He said that the fear alone of contracting COVID-19 is "is driving many Filipinos nuts.”

"This prolonged pandemic is adversing affecting the mental health of tens of thousands if not millions among us," Rodriguez said.

"Worries of being sick with covid, no work, no food or less food to eat, being unable to go outdoors, pressure to earn for the family, sickness in the family, depressing news of friends infected with and dying of covid, unable to continue school, inability to get physical comfort from friends and relatives — all these result in deteriorating mental health of our people,” he added.

Moreover, Rodriguez also noted "the uncertainty of when this infectious virus wreaking havoc on our lives will go away."

With this, Rodriguez called on the national government as well as local government units to prepare for counseling and treating people with psychological problems.

He also urged Congress to fast-track the approval of measures aiming to hire more health personnel and the construction of mental health facilities.

One of these measures is House Bill 2732 which Rodriguez filed way back in July 2019.

The measure provides that each public elementary and secondary school should have at least three counselors, one psychologist, and one social worker.

Meanwhile, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra appealed to churches and spiritual leaders to provide counsel and guidance to their members who faced mental health problems amid the pandemic.

Archdiocese of Manila Apostolic Administrator Bishop Broderick Pabillo on Sunday emphasized that the Catholic Church was committed to addressing these mental health issues.

Pabillo, however, appealed for a return to the 10-percent capacity rule instead of the 10-person limit in churches in areas under general community quarantine. —Erwin Colcol/KG, GMA News