by: Edward Andrew A. Guese
October celebrates Mental Health Awareness Month.
People, including children, are adapting to the “now normal”, a transition from virtual learning to the return of face-to-face activities. It also serves as a reminder to check the well-being of each person, especially their mental health.
As part of their month-long celebration of Mental Health Month, Malayan Colleges Laguna, A Mapúa School (MCL), through the collaboration of the Center for Guidance and Counseling (CGC) and the Center for Service-Learning and Community Engagement (CSCE), held its in-person Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) seminar on October 13, 2022, to MCL partner schools in Calauan, Laguna: Calauan Central Elementary School (CCES) and Makativille Elementary School (Makativille ES). The seminars were attended by 100+ students from each school, composed of Grades 4, 5, and 6 students.
Conducted by Ms. Joy P. Tarzona, MAEd, RGC, CGC Guidance Counselor, each seminar aimed to raise awareness on the core of mental health for young learners, build resiliency through self-awareness, boost well-being, understand emotions, and apply adaptive coping mechanisms to manage stressful situations effectively. Ms. Jocelyn T. Bellin, CSCE Director, was also present at that day’s activities.
Before the discussion, Ms. Tarzona started a mind-boggling game wherein students guessed a word by deciphering the pictures on the screen. Each student received an MCL backpack once they guessed correctly. One of the answers to the game was related to the actual topic of the seminar, which is mental health. During the lecture, the students shared their thoughts about mental health and gave examples of situations that triggered their emotions or raised mental health issues, such as family problems and dealing with peer pressure at school. Afterward, she asked the students to take part in a series of relaxation activities. The first, called the “Noodle Caboodle,” was a muscle relaxation exercise wherein the students helped ease the physical tightness of their muscles whenever they felt anxious. This was followed by a grounding exercise in which the students identify their surroundings using the body’s five senses. And the third activity, “Bubbling Over,” in which the students applied coping mechanisms in handling the pressure like a boiling pot.
At the end of the seminar, the students reflected on what they knew, wanted to know, and what they learned about mental health. Ms. Bellin then gave a moment of gratitude to the teachers, administrators, and students of CCES and Makativille ES for the opportunity to share a very timely topic on MHPSS and recognize mental health as an indicator of the quality of one’s well-being. In response, one of the teachers expressed their gratitude to MCL for selecting their respective schools to conduct a seminar on mental health and giving the students a chance to inform and learn about the topic.
It was important for children to learn about the importance of Mental Health. As the return to face-to-face classes went into full swing, they would not feel as anxious as the blended learning setup during the pandemic. The collaboration of CSCE and CGC on presenting MHPSS to partner schools shows that giving support to one’s well-being should always start young. As Catherine, Princess of Wales said, “a child’s mental health is as important as their physical health.”