Social workers offer phone, online psychosocial services

NAGA CITY --- With its motto of “every registered social worker is a psychological first-aider,” the United Registered Social Workers (United-RSW) in the Bicol region has offered its services free of charge to anyone suffering from emotional stress because of situations brought about by the Coronavirus disease (Covid-19).

The group, known as the Bicol Registered Social Worker Volunteers (BRSWV) has proposed to provide psychological first aid and psychosocial support through confidential telephone and online counseling to Bicolanos, especially to members of vulnerable sectors, adversely affected by Covid-19.

BRSWV has focal persons and representatives in the six Bicol provinces.

Psychosocial support helps individuals and communities to heal the psychological wounds and rebuild social structures after an emergency or a critical event. It can help change people into active survivors rather than passive victims, BRSWV said.

Marivic Vargas Balance, a Naga-based member and media focal person of United RSW said that they are helping their clients with interventions based on the current crisis they are facing or situations to which they manifest anxiety.

She said that among the factors that cause a person to feel anxious or distress are negative information and fake news, missing family members, or caught in a lockdown, difficulty in sleeping, suffering from gastroesophageal reflux, and inadequate food supply. The RSW volunteers also encountered cases of sexual abuse.

Balance said that aside from counseling, they also help their clients to acquire the services they need from concerned agencies including non-government and people’s organizations as part of the psycho-social support.

While assuring their clients of strict confidentiality, Balance said that among those who have benefitted from their services are health workers, Covid-19 patients, pregnant women, senior citizens, children, displaced workers, students and professionals.

“We deliver our services through FB Messenger, text or calls, Viber, Skype, and WhatsApp. We maximize the utilization of social media platforms while faithfully observing the provisions of the Bayanihan To Heal as One Act of 2020,” she said.

Based on latest data, the group has handled 35 cases.

BRSWV was organized as a response to the government’s call for RSW volunteers to accept clients and conduct psychological first aid for free. Presently, it has around 20 members based in this city and Camarines Sur and 35 members across Bicol region.

Listed below are the contact details of RSW volunteers for those who want to avail of the psychosocial support:

Ma. Vida Teresa O. Sales, RSW, regional group leader (Albay) CP: 09088928396; Joselynn M. Niñofranco, RSW, MSSW, asst. regional group leader (Albay) CP: 09298547989; Russ Daniel O. Baldoza, RSW, Pikto team member (Camarines Sur) CP: 09395531161; Marivic Vargas-Balance, RSW, Media Persons (Naga City) CP: 09189590596;

Tania L. Añonuevo RSW, MSSW, recruitment and research (Albay) CP: 09175832423; Shiena Realuyo-Base, RSW, focal person (Albay) CP: 09271682986/09994743546; Mark Bryan M. Miranda, RSW, MA, focal person (Sorsogon) CP: 09063401488; Crismelia Ann Aviles, RSW, focal person (Catanduanes) CP: 09491913708;

Aileen P. Camacho, RSW, focal person (Camarines Norte) CP: 09304864111; Bjorn Daryll M. Oropesa, RSW, focal person (Masbate) CP: 09167332366; Maria Teresa B. Javier, RSW, PhD, focal person (Camarines Sur) CP: 09328814794; and Mary Sol T. Labenia-Yape, RSW, technical assistant for Region 5 (Eastern Samar) CP: 09564430449.