The Philippine Red Cross (PRC) joined the World Mental Health Day (WMHD) Celebration on 10 October by organizing training events for staff and volunteers on Psychological First Aid (PFA) across its chapters nationwide. WMHD’s thrust is to raise awareness about mental health issues.
“We have trained staff and volunteers who provide psychosocial support to people affected by disasters. We are continually training more, so that people will have this needed support available in case a disaster strikes, especially because the Philippines is disaster-prone,” said PRC Chairman and CEO Dick Gordon.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), PFA involves humane, supportive and practical help to fellow human beings suffering serious crisis events. PFA is part of PRC’s package of services provided to people affected by fire, typhoons, earthquakes, armed conflict, and other crises. At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the PRC operated the national, toll-free COVID-19 Hotline 1158 dedicated to providing callers with PFA. In the aftermath of a crisis event, the PRC sets up child-friendly spaces where trained staff and volunteers facilitate activities for children designed as PFA.
“The PRC interventions in mental health aim to equip community-based volunteers to be able to provide support to people who experience a crisis. It aims to raise awareness of mental health issues and the services available,” Dr. Gwen Pang, secretary-general of the PRC, added.
A scientific brief published by WHO in March 2022 says that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a severe impact on the mental health and wellbeing of people around the world.
Heavy rainfall and consequent flooding brought by Severe Tropical Storm Paeng (international name: Nalgae) left communities in Laguna without access to clean safe water aside from the massive cleanup required to clear roads of mud and other debris. The Philippine Red Cross (PRC) deployed its water tankers and payloaders to these affected localities to speed up the recovery of the most vulnerable.
“Ang Philippine Red Cross ay katuwang ng ating mga komunidad hindi lang sa kasagsagan ng bagyo kung hindi pati na rin pagkatapos nito. Ipagpapatuloy namin, sa PRC, ang pagde-deploy ng water tankers at payloader para mas maraming komunidad sa malalayong lugar ang maabutan ng ating mga tulong,” Chairman and CEO Richard J. Gordon explained.
Since PRC Paeng operations, the PRC WASH (Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene) unit had distributed a total of 286, 300 liters to storm-affected areas in Laguna. PRC installed a water bladder in Alonte Arena Evacuation Center Biñan, Laguna, providing 20, 000 liters of water to 731 displaced individuals. Meanwhile, 2, 868 persons from Dela Paz Main Elementary School and Saint Francis Covered Court evacuation centers received 24, 000 liters of water from water tankers. Biñan City was placed under a state
of calamity on 31 October due to extensive damage caused by STS Paeng.
In addition, PRC’s payloader conducted clearing operations in Canossa School, Barangay Kanluran Santa Rosa, Laguna to make roads accessible for more relief operations. Over 210 cubic meters of mud were cleared in the area.
On 15 November, PRC served hot meals and bread to 511 persons in the Barangay Dila evacuation center. PRC distributed sleeping kits to 40 families and hygiene kits to 192 families in several affected municipalities. PRC Welfare Services, under the Psychological Support System (PSP), provided psychosocial services to 47 persons and Child-friendly Spaces (CFS) to accommodate the needs of 136 affected children.
PRC is in full-blast in providing assistance to Paeng-affected families across the country and vows to continue its relief and recovery efforts to alleviate the sufferings of the most vulnerable.