Did you know that parents play a crucial role in the mental health of a child?

I recently tuned in to the latest #StartANewDay webinar because, as a parent, this particular episode felt very relevant and crucial.

The title of the latest #StartANewDay installment is called, “Family’s role in one’s mental health” and based on most talks and discussions I’ve heard in the past, one’s family plays a very important role in the well-being of a person’s mental health.

#StartANewDay – Let’s Talk About Mental Health (Family’s Role in One’s Mental Health

To be honest, when I started watching the webinar, I really didn’t know what to expect apart from the usual discussions from their esteemed panelists. But the testimonials and sharing by a couple of their guests were so powerful, that I actually cried while listening to them.

For those who aren’t aware, this #StartANewDay series is 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.

Just like the previous #StartANewDay webinar I watched before, this particular discussion was moderated by Pam Pastor, Editor of Inquirer Super.

Pam Pastor

Guests during this webinar were the following:

  • Dr. Anna Cristina Tuazon, PsyD, RPsy, CSCLP of the University of the Philippines, Diliman
  • Jean GoulBourn – Hopeline founder. She considers herself to be a lifeweaver. She is also an advocate of bringing depression to light and is the Philippine representative of International Association for Suicide Prevention.
  • Manong Ari Versoza – Mental health advocate. He started his career in PAL back in 1986. Ari is busy in hospitality tourism and was the former host of a show called “A Slice of Life” in SkyCable Baguio. He was diagnosed with mental health disorder (bipolar disorder) over 12 years ago.
  • Iza Calzado – Multi-awared actress; advocate of body positivity & mental health awareness.

Insights and discussions that every parent urgently needs to listen to

Each panelist had time to share valuable stories and insights worth listening to, regardless if the topic of mental illness hits close to home or not.

Dr. Anna Cristina Tuazon tackled the importance of spotting symptoms of mental health problems early on. She also clarifies that mental health is not just about illness, disorders, and diagnosis. It’s one’s overall wellness and being able to self-assess if you are still truly okay.

Dr. Anna Cristina Tuazon

She gives examples that a person can ask himself/herself in order to determine the wellness of one’s mental health such as:

  1. Am I eating well?
  2. Am I sleeping well?
  3. Am I having enough fun and enjoyment?
  4. Am I able to enjoy the company of other people?

Dr. Tuazon shares that this pandemic has revealed all the cracks and vulnerabilities in individuals suffering from mental illness. People who could have otherwise coped in a predictable and certain world is affected by the pandemic and its uncertainty.

She also stresses that “Parenting syles matter,” explaining that parents have to be both firm and supportive. But at the same time, she says that dynamic parenting is key. Parents must accept and embrace that parenting rules change as your child changes and grows.

There are so many important aspects of parenting that Dr. Tuazon talked about which every mother and father should take to heart and apply in order support their children’s well-being and overall mental health. She also talks about how to detect red flags early on and how to approach these concerns.

I was actually very alarmed to learn through Jean Goulbourn that there are a considerable number of calls made to Hopeline from individuals as young as 9 years old. 9 years old! Take that in for a minute. Unbelievable and truly concerning.

Jean Goulbourn

Ms. Goulbourn also shared the top reasons for the calls they have been receiving on Hopeline:

  1. Family Problem & Violence
  2. Relationship problems
  3. Depression
  4. Suicidal Ideation
  5. Anxiety and Despair
  6. Stess
  7. Gender Issue
  8. Loss of Jobs/Unemployment
  9. Asking for referral/Inquiry

But the most powerful part of her portion during the webinar was when she was telling the story of how, even as a Psychology major, she didn’t see the mental health warning signs on her daughter early on… and only realized them when it was too late already. This, she says, was her mistake; not being educated, not knowing the symptoms, and not talking to her daughter about it.

Ms. Goulbourn painfully explained what she did in order to cope and get through her devastating ordeal.

The way she told her story and personal experience really broke my heart. I cried for a considerable while and had to catch my breath before resuming.

Among many other things, she mentions that we, as parents, should consider playtime to be a very important aspect of parenting. These are times when kids open up or become comfortable enought to open up.

Ari Versoza, or “Manong Ari” as many would fondly refer to him, also gave a truly powerful and emotional testimonial that really broke me. Part of his story is how, one time, he put a gun to his head to end his life, and not caring that he had 5 beautiful daughters and a loving wife.

Ari Versoza

Manong Ari currently takes 5-7 medications a day for his bipolar disorder. He explains that one of the most common myths is that people think that a mental health problem is a spiritual crisis. He also talks about the misconception that “there is a face to depression” such as looking sad or gloomy. On the contrary, depressed people can look very happy because they know how to hide their condition very well so that people don’t notice what they are going through.

Some of the tips he shared for parents is having very open communication between you and your kids; getting to know your children and their barkada. Why? Because there are certain things that your kids say to their friends and not to parents. Things like, “Pagod na ako” or “Hindi ko na kaya.” Being close to your children’s friends may allow you some better insight on the well-being of their mental health.

And again… just like the other panelists have pointed out, awareness and early intervention is very important.

It was very enlightening, listening to Iza Calzado also. She actually happens to be a friend, as well as her late father, Kuya Lito, whom I have worked and bonded with many many times in the past.

Iza Calzado

Iza, shared that by 5 or 6, she realized that there was something wrong with her mother. Back then, there was no support system, knowledge, and awareness about mental illness. She shared that it was very hard to deal with something like this when she was a child.

As a kid, it was to difficult for Iza to understand people suffering with mental health problems. She couldn’t process what was going on on her own and would ultimitely end up fighter with her mom back then.

How she tells of her personal experience is one you should take the time to listen to. There are many lessons and insights to be learned.

Iza mentions the importance of helping yourself first before helping others. It’s not being selfish but rather ensuring one’s sound mind first in order to properly guide those who are also struggling with mental illness.

These are just some of the many things tackled during this truly enlightening and eye-opening discussion.

Watch the full #StartANewDay webinar

If you have the time, I strongly encourage you to watch the full replay of the webinar through the embedded player below.

This particular #StartANewDay webinar educates and hits you in the gut at the same time. And there is no better time to listen to these sharings and teachings than now.

And if, during the course of the discussion, you feel uncomfortable or uneasy, please sit through it and listen on. If it makes you cry the way it did to me, please know that it is a necessary kind of pain that awakens us and changes us for the better.

What you may hopefully learn here might just save a life in your very own family.


Hopeline

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.

Hopeline

You can reach Hopeline at the following numbers:

Globe/TM: 0917-5584673 or dial 2919 toll-free
Smart: 0918-8734673
PLDT Landline: 02-8-8044673

Other numbers you may also call if you need help are on the image below…

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