The Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA) and its partners, the Balik Kalipay Center for Psychosocial Response, UPLB Department of Human and Family Development Studies and Yscola Inc
started online talks for the public, “Lusog Isip Talks sa Gitna ng CoVid-19” (Mental Health Talks in the Midst of CoVid-19) and #TalkTuesdays.

PETA has been using the theater arts for psychosocial healing since their successful experience in Typhoon Haiyan-devastated Leyte, in the Visayas islands. PETA partnered with psychosocial experts.

In this pandemic, PETA partnered with mental health experts from the Philippine Psychiatric Association who led the talks and free webinars to better inform the public about the need to be aware of mental health during this pandemic. It is important to take care of oneself and one’s ability to stay positive and hopeful, as well as to be sensitive to the vulnerable population–those with existing mental health conditions,

On April 21, #TalkTuesdays, which was moderated by PETA artist-teacher Mae Quesada Medina,the talk engaged celebrated broadcast journalist Howie Severino, a CoVID 19 survivor, to share his experience of fear about dying. Mae and Howie were joined by Dr. Rene Samaniego, a psychiatrist at the Makati Medical Center and Sister Becky Ortega, a meditation expert at Brahma Kumaris   Howie Severino reflected that while he was a consummate professional who never turned down a documentary assignment, he realized while he was sick that what really matters is relationships with others, not the demands of work. Listening to Howie transition from a fearful patient to one so grateful for the support of his wife at home and his caregivers in the hospital, Dr Samaniego affirmed that what Howie went through is illness as  a rite of passage to discover a new dimension of oneself. To the public at large, he offered free online counseling at telemedicine channels and through the Philippine Psychiatric Association’s “Mind Matters,” a counseling project for frontliners.   Dr. June Pagaduan-Lopez of Balik Kalipay Center, noted from Howie’s sharing that how one puts positive meaning to what is happening to oneself will help one to heal, and be stronger mentally. The next two #TalkTuesdays will focus on the family of a COVID-19 patient and the frontliners in this pandemic.

To COVID-19 patients, this  is not just a physical challenge but also a mental challenge. Your family at home and nurses-frontliners become your emotional and psychological support. It is a time to examine and reflect on our lives we can create more quality in our relationships, said Howie Severino. In photo, from top left to right: Mae Quesada Medina of PETA, Howie Severino, Sister Becky Ortega. Below them, from left to right: Dr. Rene Samaniego and Dr. June Pagaduan-Lopez.