HR consortium holds national psychosocial training for rights defenders

Twenty seven (27) human rights defenders from various regions across the Philippines attended the 2nd National Training for Psychosocial Support last 22-24 March 2017 at Ma. Antonia Paris Retreat House, Quezon City. This training is part of the Education, Training and Capacity Building component of the current project, Confronting Challenges on Human Rights Defenders in the Philippines.

This training was conducted to equip human rights defenders and human rights workers with necessary skills and knowledge on the psychosocial aspect in the field of human rights. Community Medicine Development Foundation, Inc. (COMMED), made the training possible by facilitating the training and providing seasoned speakers to share their knowledge with the participants. Important topics on mental health and human rights, skills on communication, psychosocial first aid, basic testing and assessment and self-care were tackled during the three day activity.

During the input on Mental Health and Human Rights, Dr. Reggie Pamugas of COMMED pointed out, “Relating human rights to health means looking at all aspects of rights work.”. He also mentioned physical, psychological, economic and social factors that are felt all over the country heavily affects an individual, “The psychological effects are multiple and are amplified by the other stresses of living in a deprived society.”, he added.

Joining Dr. Pamugas, Dr. Magdalena Barcelon, a clinical psychologist, volunteers from COMMED and Counselor Jo Anne Cabale ran the session for three days. Dr. Barcelon took on topics on basic testing and assessment, stress and coping and activities on exploring oneself. Ms. Cabale facilitated the sessions on self-care, teaching human rights defenders meditation techniques, breathing exercises and discussed compassion fatigue and burn out.

The twenty seven participants parted the training, equipped with skills on providing psychosocial services which will be useful to victims of human rights abuses and even their peers and colleagues. The participants pledged to be part of the national pool of psychosocial support providers which could rapidly respond in times where services and aid is needed.