Frontliner Story #15: Homer Bernacer

The Other Unseen Enemy

By Benidict Prodon and Audrey Garin

Edited by Dana Eunise Cruz

Frontliner sourcing by Jana Reynaldo

The Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) is a deadly yet invisible enemy of the world that continues to wreak havoc as the number of infected people increases. However, another subtle enemy is rising and, like COVID-19, it cannot be seen. The only difference between the two is that the former attacks the body while this penetrates the mind.

As the pandemic freezes the everyday life of a person, it is no surprise that many experienced a shock in adapting to the new environment that this virus had created which caused anxieties, and worries that ultimately affected the mental health of many people.

According to the Health Tracking Poll that was conducted by Kaiser Family Foundation for the past three months: 39% of U.S. Adults or about four out of ten had stated that their worries and stress are related to the coronavirus and had a negative impact on their mental health, including the 12% of people who said that it had a “major impact.” This occurrence can also be observed here in the Philippines as many people, including health professionals, have raised concerns about mental-health of the public during the pandemic.

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Poster by John Rannel Valdez

One of those people that have experienced the effect of this pandemic both in physical and mental aspects is Mr. Homer Bernacer who is a supervisor in the human resource department of Puregold Masantol branch in Pampanga. In a phone interview he said: “This pandemic has made me realize the simple things and how I should appreciate them — most particularly my family and job.”

Bernacer, who belongs to the essential industry of grocery and foods, has witnessed how many people lost their job because of this virus as he further said that: “I worried about my job because I might lose it but after a few months I realized how lucky I am because of my position and that made me appreciate my job more.”

When he was asked about his anxieties and worries. “I always worry that I might be the one who will infect my family with the disease as I am the one who always goes out and it made me overthink a lot,” he said. “And if that ever happens, that would be too much of a burden for me. That is why I always take all the precautionary measures that are needed.”

Bernacer is a graduate of Bachelor of Science in Psychology in Bulacan State University that is why he also said that: “The effects of this pandemic to the mental health of the people is like a virus but may also be harmful.”

As many people take physical precautionary measures against COVID-19 many have also taken notice of the impact of mental health to the public. This pandemic has presented the idea to many FIlipinos on how important mental health is and it should not be neglected as many would inadvertently do; that everyone should take care of their mental well-being just as much as they care about their physical health. Both are definitely important that one cannot function enough if the other one is failing.

Ultimately, taking care of both will assure us that no new crisis would come immediately after COVID-19 just like what experts are expecting now, and that is the surge of a mental health crisis.

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