For some reason, as I was looking for something productive and interesting to watch online earlier today, I happened to chance upon one of Inquirer.net’s live webinars on Facebook. The topic of this particular session was about mental health, a subject of discussion that I know is very present and relevant in this day and age, but something that needs to be brought more to the forefront.
And since I was able to catch the webinar right before it actually started, I decided to stay and listen to the many notable speakers who were scheduled to discuss about the challenges of mental health and the possible ways to help people going through these difficulties, especially now that the pandemic and lockdown has triggered more anxiety and depression in many of our fellow Filipinos.
INQlusive #StartANewDay – Let’s Talk About Mental Health (Insights for Millennials and Gen Z)
Aptly entitled, “INQlusive – #StartANewDay (Let’s Talk About Mental Health),” the webinar was organized by the Philippine Daily Inquirer in partnership with Globe Telecom, a company that has been relentlessly leading the way in raising awareness on mental health. The speakers who were on board during the discussion were Sen. Risa Hontiveros, Dr. Gia Sison, Dr. Angela Cuadro, Kiana Valenciano, and Roy Dahildahil. The moderator during the entire session was Pam Pastor who is the editor of Inquirer Super.
As a parent to a 22 year old boy and an 18 year old girl, a sense of responsibility compelled me to tune in, spend time, and learn more about the challenges and stigma of mental health, and why it has affected a good number of millennials and Gen Z’ers.
A very insightful and INQlusive discussion
It was really enlightening and eye-opening listening to each speaker as they stressed the importance of creating a safe space where individuals who are struggling with mental illness can freely open up and talk about what they are going through without fear of judgment and discrimination.
There were many notable moments that stuck with me while watching the live stream.
The way Kiana Valenciano shared about her own personal struggles with mental health, anxiety, and depression was quite powerful. She explained how her battle with depression started at a very young age when she did not even know what it was called yet. Not knowing what was causing it and not having a safe space to address what she was experiencing made it harder for her to get out of it. I cannot even begin to imagine just how difficult it must have been for her to open up about her mental health to therapists, family members, and school counselors, only for them to take it personally and offensively.
Kiana is thankful that people are now becoming more open about the reality of mental health and that this topic is now being talked about in the open. She is passionate about advocating for mental health because she doesn’t want anyone else to feel the same way she did. Also, so that people with mental illness wouldn’t feel that they have to go through these challenges alone.
Sen. Risa Hontiveros stressed the importance of having more and more discussions and webinars about mental health in order to remove the social stigma that is keeping many individuals from opening up about it.
Also, in line with her call for more awareness throughout the country, Sen. Risa also reiterated the urgency of having better internet in the Philippines by emphasizing the need for more cellsites in order to improve the speed and reliability of our data infrastructure. This way, even those in the far reaches of the country are not left out on the discussion of not just mental health, but other crucial topics that affect our lives as well.
It is also great to hear how Roy Dahildahil and their #MentalHealthPH advocacy uses social media to share personal stories of people struggling with mental health in order to reach out to other individuals going through the same challenges.
#MentalHealthPH’s aim is to promote and protect mental health in the Philippines through social media and digital technology.
Dr. Gia Sison is right by sighting a very important observation — that social isolation brought about by this pandemic has led to feelings of hopelessness and loneliness. She mentions that because of this, there has been an increase of domestic abuse and violence, plus a rise in negative coping mechanisms such as alcohol, drugs, and tobacco. What’s deeply concerning is that she suggests that the consequences of this pandemic might not be just short term and that it may persist after a long time. Dr. Gia stresses the need for all of us to learn to endure and build our defenses. She mentions resilience; the serious kind, and not the romanticized trait that is usually associated with us Filipinos.
“We really need to start a new day, every day… and choose to start one.”, says Dr. Gia Sison. During her allotted time, she also discussed how equally important it is for us to reflect on how our individual actions affect those of us in the community. And since community care is at the very heart of the mental health advocacy, Dr. Gia adds that in a period where everyone might feel some sort of distress, we all need to be more kind to others and more importantly to ourselves.
Dr. Angela Cuadro has repeatedly mentioned the importance of awareness; for friends and family members to be more aware and sensitive to what others are possibly going through. But at the same time, a sense of awareness should be had by the actual person going through mental health struggles.
During the webinar, people were introduced to HOPE BANK. Hope Bank is a Facebook Group that serves as a wonderful platform for people with mental health difficulties who are seeking support and upliftment.
I highly encourage all my readers, regardless if you’re going through mental health issues or not, to join this community group. It’s a great way to encourage one another through words, inspiring photos, and more.
My quick thoughts on mental health after watching this webinar
I am incredibly thankful to have caught this live webinar earlier. It has made me realize all the more the magnitude of challenges that people with mental health problems are experiencing. For many people who are not personally going through these kinds of difficulties, the issue of mental illness may seem trivial. But once you get to listen to very brave people who have decided to open up and talk about their personal experiences, as well as experts and mental health advocates, you will immediately know just how urgently we have to address this very concerning subject.
Mental health advocacies have opened opportunities for society to truly start talking about how to address the stigma and discrimination. It provides avenues for discussion — and hopefully through talking, we will be able to propose solutions as well. This initiative can only work if we all come together, involve our family and friends, and really talk about it. We have to be consciously aware that the more we talk about mental health, we create a safe space for people going through mental health struggles. These discussions help encourage people with mental health issues to freely talk about their challenges.
It is my hope that the more we all start listening to these kinds of discussions, a greater part of society will be able to accept this very real concern.
Take the time to watch the webinar yourselves
If you would like to watch the entire webinar as well (please do!), you can do so by clicking on the embedded player below.
Friends, if any of you happen to be going through similar mental health struggles, please know that help is available. There are people who care and are ready to listen to you. Should you need to talk to someone immediately any time of the day, you can call Hopeline. Hopeline is a 24/7 suicide prevention and crisis support helpline here in the country.
You can reach Hopeline at the following numbers:
Globe/TM: 0917-5584673 or dial 2919 toll-free
PLDT Landline: 02-8-8044673