La Union LGU lead PLDT, Smart’s inclusive mental health initiatives


PLDT and Smart supported the Provincial Government of La Union’s capacity-building mental health program through the Psychological First Aid (PFA) training. 

“Digital wellness is one of our key advocacies in PLDT and Smart. We are privileged to partner with the Provincial Government of La Union as they create a safe, inclusive space for mental health in their own communities. We hope that through this PFA training, we continue to champion mental health and cultivate a culture of empathy and kindness – both online and offline,” said Stephanie V. Orlino, AVP and Head of Stakeholder Management at PLDT and Smart. 

Through the training, around 50 participants from various sectors were trained and mobilized as psychological first-aid volunteers, including senior citizens, barangay healthcare workers, provincial and city health officers, disaster resilient unit officers, among others. 

“Mental health has always been an advocacy that is close to my heart, and I am very grateful to PLDT and Smart for helping us strengthen our mental health program in the province. We hope that by raising awareness and mobilizing our sector representatives that we are able to champion safe spaces for mental health in the different communities across the province,” said Joy R. Ortega, Sangguniang Panlalawigan of La Union Board Member. 

The volunteers are trained to communicate with distressed individuals in a conversational and gentle manner and provide and non-intrusive, practical care during difficult times.

During the training, Riyan Portuguez, more popularly known as “Your Millennial Psychologist”, discussed the basics of PFA, through its Look, Listen and Link principle. She underscored the importance of providing a safe space for individuals to express themselves. 

“When we communicate with distressed individuals, we must be comfortable in the silence. We must allow them to feel their emotions and feelings,” Portuguez said. 

According to Portuguez, another component of PFA is practicing self-care. “As PFA volunteers, you must honor your feelings. Practice self-compassion and forgive yourself by recognizing your own mistakes and your own lapses,” Portuguez said.

PLDT and Smart continue to deploy programs and innovations designed to uplift and improve the overall physical and mental wellness of Filipinos. 

These initiatives are part of PLDT and Smart’s continuing commitment to help the Philippines contribute to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDG), particularly UNSDG #3 that stands for good health and well-being.