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Jesuits provide mental health aid to Marawi troops

Experts try to heal psychological wounds of injured Filipino soldiers, civilian evacuees

Jesuits provide mental health aid to Marawi troops

Evacuees at a warehouse in Balo-i, Lanao del Norte, where the Jesuit's Center of Psychological Extension Research Services has been extending mental health and psychosocial services. (Photo by Bong S Sarmiento) 

September 7, 2017

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Psychologists and counselors at a Jesuit-run university have tended scores of wounded soldiers and displaced residents in the conflict-torn southern Philippine city of Marawi.

The Center of Psychological Extension Research Services from Ateneo de Davao University was also training local volunteers in psychosocial work, said its director, Doctor Rhodora Gail T. Ilagan.

The team has worked with more than 300 soldiers recuperating after being wounded in the conflict.

Early intervention could help ease combat stress reactions, like dissociative and posttraumatic stress disorder or depression, Ilagan told

"We can disclose more fully what's inside of us. It feels lighter. The support has been overwhelming," said First Lieutenant Allan Wadsilang, commander of the 6th Scout Ranger company, whose troops were among those helped by the Ateneo experts. 

Displaced residents also have a big need for psychosocial help, Ilagan said.

Tens of thousands of displaced residents live in crowded tent cities without jobs, wondering about their livelihoods and homes left behind, she said.

Physical therapy and body massage are part of the "peace-centered" healing program, she said.

Ilagan said the center also worked with Islamic teachers and scholars to allow better access to communities and help bridge language and cultural differences.

The death toll in the three-and-a-half month war has passed 800, military officials said, Sept. 5. 

Close to 400,000 Marawi residents remain displaced, with 90 percent staying with relatives in towns near Marawi.

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