Ilocos Norte’s Provincial Education Department, Provincial Employment and Service Office, and Sirib Youth Office in cooperation with Sirib Ilocano Kabataan Association (SIKA) will be holding for the first time a peer counseling seminar and workshop to raise awareness about depression and mental health among teens and young adults.Dubbed as Sanggir Iti Agtutubo ti Kailokuan (SIAK), the event aims to create a roundtable of youth volunteers who shall render peer support and coping skills to young Ilocanos in order for them to move forward despite experiencing past or current life changes, trauma or abuse.
“We aim to empower our volunteers to achieve self-mastery and the ability to respond properly and effectively to those who are under emotional pressure,” Joaz Lagundino, spokesperson for the Sirib Youth Office, explained.
This is in line with the ongoing efforts of the Provincial Government to reduce the number of suicides in the province, most especially among teenagers.
“Oftentimes that opening up is the real challenge here. A young person under emotional stress may find it hard to seek help from an adult that’s why we are tapping our SIKA volunteers to be in the frontline,” Lagundino said, pointing out that this setup will provide “a more approachable and comfortable atmosphere” since the counselor and the client are of the same age bracket.
The SIKA members who will successfully finish the peer counselors training shall be designated to a sub-branch which is SIAK after the by-line of the said event.
“We are willing to serve those who do not know where to turn to in times of trouble. We want them to know that we are ready to reach out anytime,” Lagundino added.
The speakers for the said event are licensed Ilocano guidance counselors, namely: Mrs. Maybelle D. Madamba, RGC for Suicide Awareness and Prevention; Mrs. Rosalie O. Lingaling, RGC for Adolescent Psychology; and Miss Majelle V. dela Rosa, RGC for Dynamics Counseling.
The peer counselors seminar and workshop was created in line with a public consultation with the municipal social welfare and development officers in Ilocos Norte last August 2014. It will be held on November 13 at La Tabacalera Function Hall, Laoag City.—Grazielle Mae A. Sales, PGIN-CM