We have to agree with the good senator.
These rarely heralded professionals also at the frontline of the ongoing battle against the 2019 coronavirus disease pandemic deserve the support of the government and the gratitude of the people.
They are much a part of the “war effort” against an unseen enemy as the rest of our front liners – doctors, nurses, medical technologies, pharmacists, other medical and health professioanals.
But they are still an integral part of the team whose work would not be complete without their participation.
This group of forgotten and neglected health front liners is no other than the social workers in public clinics and hospitals.
And so we fully agree with and strongly support Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph G. Recto’s proposal that the best belated thank-you card that we can give them is to make their minimum pay equal to nurses, P32,035 a month, that of Salary Grade 15 in the government pay scale.
Recto noted that “social workers have the biggest number of clients in a hospital. Anyone who lacks the money, which means most of those who seek treatment nowadays, automatically becomes their ‘patient’.”
“This is because all those who are hospitalized share one comorbidity: poverty. It is fatal. This is a land where every family is one major illness away from bankruptcy,” he said.
The senior lawmaler stressed: “Our social workers help them and their families find relief, by becoming their advocates for discounts and free treatments. They refer them to agencies which can extend financial help.
Like medical professionals, social workers prepare a patient chart but of a different kind, one which often shows the hard life of the sick and their families.”
He noted that their job goes beyond profiling. “They recommend psychosocial care, lodging for the caregivers, fare money for the stranded. They've been doing this ages before this pandemic struck,” he pointed out.
Meanwhile, in line with the thrusts and priorities of the agency to champion the well-being of the welfare givers, the Department of Social Welfare and Development has intensified its psychosocial services by linking up with professional psychosocial support providers to address their mental health concerns.
The DSWD Human Resource Management and Development Service, together with its counterpart in the field offices as internal service providers, is conducting mental health first response and psychological first aid via teleconferencing and other available platforms while external service providers are offering free services through their support hotlines.
According to Director Leonardo Reynoso, HRMDS head, DSWD encourages “officials and staff to avail of the free well-being coaching/counseling and crisis helpline services offered by our mental health and psycho-social support service partners, such as Mindwell Psychosocial Services and The Masters Psychosocial Services to help them deal with emotional crises, stress, and anxiety”.
To date, around 3,300 DSWD personnel nationwide have benefitted from the mental health and psychosocial support services to include stress debriefing, counseling, mindfulness sessions, peer support group, among others.
DSWD also has social workers who are trained on psycho-social first aid and critical incident stress debriefing and can reinforce the efforts of the HRMDS and the service providers.
Meanwhile, as part of its services for the vulnerable sector during this public health emergency, the department is providing psychosocial interventions to locally stranded individuals as well as to Filipino transferees from Sabah.
The Department, as part of its technical assistance and resource augmentation function, capacitates local government units to help them better provide psychosocial interventions to their constituents. \
Based on the Local Government Code of 1991, LGUs are mandated to provide psychosocial services to their constituents, especially those affected by disasters or are experiencing a crisis.
DSWD stressed that availing of psychosocial services is important in taking care of ones’ mental and emotional well-being in this time of pandemic.