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Project Listen and why hearing out someone is the best thing to do amid the gloom

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Gerald Tana got confused the first time he spoke to someone who wanted to book a schedule with a life coach.

Shocked even.

That someone, a woman working on the medical frontlines, cried.

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“I didn’t know what to do, I could sense the confusion,” he says.

It was a face-to-face encounter that lasted for only a short time.

“But it felt like a heavy burden was on my shoulders,” Tana tells DNX about the project initiated by the office of Bacolod Cong. Greg Gasataya.

Project Listen is a psycho-social support initiative that provides counseling to people who are experiencing trauma or stress as a result of the quarantines to curb the rise of COVID cases.

Psycho-social support, a seemingly overlooked aspect after calamities, a post-disaster problem that often lingers beyond the hunger and. joblessness that can be addressed by aid and amelioration.

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Beneath the heaving concerns of food packs, aid, and medical facilities, a silent current appears to be sweeping across this city.

An unseen aftershock like that after an earthquake that jars the senses, heightens sensations or deaden the nerves.

Journalists are familiar with vicarious trauma, the kind that comes from persons with trauma that they usually encounter on the field as interviewees – from victims of natural- and man-made calamities to soldiers, rebels, policemen or simply desperate people who cannot cope with crisis.

Like the one brought by the pandemic.

Vicarious trauma seems to rub off, experts say, like the burden felt by Gerald after facing the healthcare worker.

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The American Counseling Organization defines vicarious trauma as “the latest term that describes the phenomenon generally associated with the ‘cost of caring for others.'”

But Gerald could have just felt what is also known as secondary traumatic stress or secondary traumatization.

The question is: what do traumatized people or those with post-traumatic stress disorder or anxiety disorder really feel?

After months under varying quarantine levels, public data on mental health in the city and country remains spotty and sporadic at best, non-existent at worst.

The Department of Health reports on its website that “intentional self harm” is the ninth leading cause of death among those aged 20 to 24 years old.

This was according to a study in 2003, 17 years ago, however.

Three years later, the DOH also conducted a study that showed 32 percent out of 327 respondents have experienced a mental health problem in their lifetime.

The DOH also cited studies in 2011 that showed the incidence of suicide in males rose from 0.23 to 3.59 per 100,000 between 1984 and 2005 while rates rose from 0.12 to 1.09 per 100,000 in females (Redaniel, Dalida and Gunnell, 2011).

Since the pandemic started, however, there have been no specific studies so far on the mental health situation in the city or the province.

So far, Project Listen is one of the few psycho-social intervention programs in the city, a project proposed by life coach Tine Torrecampo to Cong. Greg who decided to fund the project.

The funds were taken from the proceeds of the Born Brave benefit fashion show for mental health, Gerald says.

Gerald adds Project Listen is now on to its third month and continues to accept those who want to undergo life coaching from Tine Torrecampo.

Sessions are limited to a maximum of five a day between 10am to 3pm only on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

Gerald says most of those who have availed of the program, around 30 so far, are professionals, some of them frontliners who have been affected by the strain caused by the pandemic.

Gerald cites the case of a couple that underwent life coaching.

“Their feedback was good, they reported an improvement in their outlook on life and their relationship has improved,” according to them,” Gerald, who sounded enthusiastic, recounts to DNX.

With the pandemic still raging and emotions sure to get frayed, it is not certain when things will take a turn for the better or if the “normal” as we knew it would still return.

It pays to know, however, that Coach Tine and Gerald and those at Project Listen do what they do best: listen.

If you want to avail of the services of Project Listen, call or text Coach Tine at  09382836779

or Gerald Tana at 09569181040.

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Julius D. Mariveles
Julius D. Mariveles
An amateur cook who has a mean version of humba, the author has recently tried to make mole negra, the Mexican sauce he learned by watching shows of master chef Rick Bayless. A journalist since 19, he has worked in the newsrooms of radio, local papers, and Manila-based news organizations. A stroke survivor, he now serves as executive editor of DNX.

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