mental health awareness

Feeling down? Psychometricians make online test to check well-being during lockdown

Allena Therese Juguilon

Photos from LifeRisks

The free online well-being self-assessment website hopes to help people who might be wondering if the emotions they're feeling are normal during these challenging times

How are you doing during this lengthy community quarantine?

A group of registered psychometricians in Pampanga aims to help people check in on their mental health during the Luzon lockdown by releasing a free online well-being assessment on Monday, March 23.

LifeRisks, a non-profit organization in Pampanga focusing on mental health service, spearheaded the Global People’s Unexpected Life-Events Self Evaluation on Coronavirus Disease 2019 or #GPULSECOVID19.

It’s a free online well-being self-assessment website that helps citizens understand their social and emotional well-being during the coronavirus outbreak.

Usually lasting 10-15 minutes, the test contains a set of questions that will assess sleep quality, well-being, social support, social media use, and anxieties and hopes while being quarantined at home.

There is also a designated questionnaire for frontliners and other medical workers that seeks to keep in mind possible post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms in light of their work in the field.

The data given by the respondents feed the algorithm, which then creates a norm-referenced score, expressing the level of their symptoms from low, moderate, or high. The quick scales and reference cut-off scores are based on the criteria of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders Fifth Edition.

The respondents’ experiences according to the findings are interpreted, and tips on how to cope with different struggles are also included to help them stay mentally healthy during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Results are immediately presented after completing the assessment.

However, the findings from the online self-assessment are not meant to be used as valid proof of mental health illness. Rather, the assessment hopes to give people a better understanding of their emotional state. (READ: Keep calm and cope: How to stay mentally healthy during coronavirus crisis)

It also hopes to comfort people who are still having trouble discerning if their emotions are normal during these challenging times, especially as Filipinos are prohibited to go out and visit psychology experts for consultation for fear of transmission of the virus. (READ: LIST: Who are allowed out during Luzon lockdown?)

“There is no empirical data yet about the social and emotional effects of the virus to understand better the well-being of citizens. We can go and look into other [ways of knowing] if they are lonely, anxious, [or] depressed. People might be exhibiting some of these symptoms, so want to know if they’re okay,” added Norman Mendoza, the founding adviser of LifeRisks.

Led by Lifemovers registered under the National Youth Commission, LifeRisks worked with HopeLab of De La Salle University Manila to make the website happen.

A team of 4 people from LifeRisks especially worked on developing the online self-assessment website throughout the first week of March.

Mendoza centered on the survey building, while Adrian Paul Liangco, the organization’s co-founder and current president, concentrated on the cultural adaptation of the survey, contextualizing the queries based on the prevailing encounters of Filipinos during this health crisis.

Meanwhile, Wilzon Dizon fixed the proper scoring and measurements, and Leandro David did the proofreading.

“Looking at the COVID-19 pandemic, we want to know how this could affect the well-being and mental health of the Filipino people, especially that there is an enhanced community quarantine. Therefore, the team decided to learn more about mental health amidst outbreaks,” Mendoza explained.

He also mentioned that LifeRisks has always made it a point to make platforms for self-assessment especially when unexpected life events occur that significantly impact Filipinos’ lives.

He recounted creating a GPULSE last April 2019, when a magnitude 6.1 earthquake rocked Luzon. However, the assessment did not gain much attention as the results were provided only after 3-5 days.

As of the moment, 74% of the #GPULSECOVID19 respondents are from Central Luzon, 17% from the National Capital Region, while the remainder come from the different regions across the country.

The team is now receiving feedback, which can be expressed in the latter portion of the survey.

“The most important part of Filipinos is for them to know that they can check on themselves. There are so many ways for us to check on other people, but only a few ways to check on ourselves. So, take the survey for you to know what your current well-being status is because you are important,” Mendoza added. – Rappler.com

Allena Therese Juguilon is a Rappler mover in Angeles City, Pampanga. She is a graduating Grade 12 student at Holy Family Academy and is the editor in chief of Cor Unum.