It all started with a thought : I want to do something for the youth. What’s the foremost concern of the youth today? What’s the most pressing issue that the youth is facing in terms of their health and well being in the most recent months or years?
Personally, what has been running inside my thoughts lately is the number of reports and real life stories of sons & daughters experiencing loneliness,
low self-esteem, extreme stress ( due to academics and friendship or peer issues) , and the dreaded depression.
It has bothered and deeply saddened me that people who I personally know have experienced death in the family in the form of suicide. It is real.
It is happening.
It is close to home.
I for one, have a loved one who almost took her life when she was heartbroken during her college years.
When I was in my late teens, I also experienced low self-esteem and self-doubts at several points in my life especially when my parents separated and we lost everything we had materially when our business went bankrupt .
But I just always mustered the courage and sheer will power to get up and embrace optimism and confidence instead of giving in to the dark side .
I owe it to my Mommy Ching- a huge part of my being able to cope with all the trials is because of her. She is a strong, resilient and prayerful woman. And so whenever I would experience bouts of self-doubt & worry, I would turn to prayer.
I would run to God.
Such was ( and is ) the power of prayer in my life.
My parents separated when I was 16. This was the main cause of my teen angst and anxiety at that time .
I had my emo phase too.
I worried about my future.
What if I die young and worst, fade into oblivion without accomplishing so much in life? These morbid thoughts of failure, despite having graduated Valedictorian of my Gradeschool batch.
But optimism always won out over pessimism.
I counted my blessings when I was down and out.
I struggled, fought and survived.
I’m a warrior. A Survivor.
But was this because- my brain and emotional being were wired that way?
And so , when the nagging questions in my mind begged for answers :
Why then are the young ones going through so much pain and emotional upheavals to the point that they become isolated and depressed?
What is being done to help them?
Who is listening to them?
Who is helping them within their closed family and social circle?
How are their parents or families understanding or accepting them?
How is society treating them?
How to help them more?
Nobody should never feel alone.
It’s okay to lonely, but not alone or isolated.
Despite the strong presence and impact of social media, many people feel isolated.
Many people feel unwanted, unworthy and under appreciated .
Deep in my heart, I wanted to reach out to the youth by partnering with the youth.
The thought of working with millennials also excited me.
My knowledge of Mental Health issues are cultivated from articles I have read so far, listening to interviews and reading social media posts.
But I felt it wasn’t enough.
I yearned for more information to have a deeper understanding of Mental Health.
And so when I broached the idea of holding an event or activity about Mental Health to Mr Roy Dahildahil
of Mental Health Ph and he said yes, I knew that it was a good sign.
I first met Roy, Dhanika Garcia & Yves Zuñiga of Mental Health PH when they guested in October 2017 in my
DZRJ -8Tri Media radio program, Usapang Bffs which I co-anchored with Mr Riccon Leonardo.
When we brainstormed and team
Mental Health told me that they had an idea of holding the first ever Mental Health Blogathon, I thought: yeah why not? Great concept!
Since the youth express themselves via social media influencing- through blogging/ Vlogging, tweeting, facebooking and instagramming, we might as well hold a day of talks & interactive workshops that will highlight how social media tackles topics & issues on Mental Health and lay down ethical parameters for a more responsible blogging.
The date was set : April 28,2018, a week after World Health Day was celebrated on April 7,2018 .
On my end, as co-organizer of this Mental Health Blogathon, I utilized all my contacts & resources within my reach to secure sponsorships. I am eternally grateful to the following sponsors : #ThankYou , Dear Sponsors
April 28,2018 : The 1st Mental Health Blogathon
Our partner venue, Art Cube Gallery was transformed into a comfy and cozy activity area; with bamboo mats, pillows & bean bags spread out on the floor.
With foldable crate tables which served as work area for the workshop.
The Speakers :
Our first speaker was Miss Lawrence dela Fuente, one of the main founders of Mental Health Ph.
Lawrence shared with us her anxieties which led her to write a blog about Mental Health and subsequently establishing Mental Health Ph.
Photo Credit for all official Mental Health Blogathon photos : Ize Mendoza
Our next speaker was Dr. Camille Garcia, clinical Psychologist and Professor. She is a friend and media colleague, who I met and worked with in the Tv Show Face The People on TV5 , which Gelli de Belen & I hosted in 2013 to 2014.
Dr Garcia was one of our Tagapayo.
As our speaker, Doc Camille gave an overview of the state of mental health in the Philippines. Very educational.
In her words:
” There are about 500 psychiatrists (496 as of 2015) in the Philippines.
If there are 2million confirmed psych patients, the ratio is 1 doctor is to 40,000 patients.
Assuming there are those who just wanted to have counseling with a psychologist because of depression ( which accounts for the 2.5% of the total population accdg. to DOH- WHO 2016) same ratio of patients to a psychologist exists.
There just aren’t enough doctors to address the needs of patients. Hence the difficulty to find available Psychologists and that also explains why the fees are high and many people cannot afford therapy sessions.
Due to the lack of doctors, far-flung areas are not reached on a regular basis.
Dr Garcia stated a sad fact : that even the family members of people with mental health problems do not understand what mental health is. Hence, there is no acceptance. Some parents even consider it an embarrassment- to have a loved one who is suffering from mental health conditions.
The stigma is real.
Dr Garcia stressed the importance of eating healthy and exercising, for our body to release SEROTONIN, the happy hormone. Taking anti-depressants without consultation and assessment can exacerbate depression since there are anti depressants that may be too strong or not fit for the needs of a patient.
Talk therapy can be very helpful and a good intervention in times of crisis and episodes.
Dr Garcia reminded our young Blogathon attendees :
” Time is so important in knowing if and when a person is considered to be mentally unfit. That is why when you become depressed today, it does not mean that you have clinical depression.. Time will tell when …. Only time can tell when all wounds will heal.
Only time will tell when hope is there and only time will tell when to stop what we feel and eventually learn to love and respect your self again.
I always remind everyone not to make permanent decisions with your temporary emotions… as time will tell when to make that decision..”
Book Author , Life Coach and Motivational Speaker Jostine Bulan
was our 3rd Speaker.
Me, Jostine and Dr. Camille Garcia
The moment Ms. Bulan took the mic and released her powerful opening sentence:
” On July 2005, I decided to die ”
I was hooked on her talk.
Such is the power and impact of her life story that you’ll miss a lot if u don’t get a copy of her book :
Thank Goodness I Got Lost !
A Wanderer’s Journey to Self Discovery
She gave me a copy of her book with a nice personal note : ” Thank you for Shining your Beautiful, Unique Light. ”
Thank you Jostine. I’ve finished reading your book. Truly inspiring.
Jostine’s life is an example of :
believing in your worth and potential
and discovering your reason for living.
The above are also the chapters of Jostine’s book which are labelled as : Note to Self.
It was the first time I met Jostine .
With her bright smile, she radiates so much positivity like a ray of light that it’s hard to believe that she was the same girl who was so broken years ago that she even wished to die.
Today, Jostine is a LOVER of LIFE.
The Ethics of Blogging: choosing and using the correct or appropriate language when blogging about Mental Health.
Ms. Justine Reyes is a Psychology student who spoke with so much wisdom and expertise that I thought she was a professor.
In the ethics of Psychology, Ms Reyes reminded the bloggers to :
Think of Others before oneself
Be Caring of others.
Be respectful. Ask the person sharing his/ her story if it’s okay to write about it and publish it. Get the full consent of your subject first.
When writing, don’t say ” An autistic person. Or ” A depressed person ” . When writing , the word ” person ” must come first. Hence, the ethical and non-offensive way or writing is : ” A person with autism ” or ” a Person with Mental Health problems” , a ” Person with substance abuse problems”
Put a trigger warning if possible.
On social media, never be afraid to call someone out when he/she uses Mental Illness as an adjective.
The goal always, as a blogger is to educate .
Nica , Justine and Dhanika
Justine and Jostine
Manila Bulletin Photojournalist
Mr. Jansen Romero talked about the importance of choosing the right visuals when writing a story, and always within ethical boundaries.
Photo credit : Paulo Miguel Larracas
Music therapy: Miss Kaye Geneta provided some much needed breather by singing and inspiring us with her personal story.
The Spoken Word: Ms Julia Marie Dela Cruz performed two strikingly powerful and personal spoken word pieces delving on her struggles with depression and suicidal thoughts.
My media colleague, Sports Anchor
TJ Manotoc whose advocacy is to help people with Mental Health issues (and those battling with their personal demons) shared his personal journey via a short film which he produced.As a parent too, I agree with TJ that stress management for school children should be addressed.
Watch TJ’s short film entitled:
You Will Be Alright which is about his Mental Health Journey and how he was able to cope successfully . Here is the link:
With Mental Health advocate,
The blogger attendees took part of a 50 minute workshop wherein they wrote blogs by groups, with the event’s theme as the main framework of their
on the spot blogs. The blogs were all good, insightful and well written.
It was difficult to be a judge!
Photo: Judges read the blog entries using My Phone tablets
Well done guys!
And the winners are:
The Champions, Group D :
Read their winning blog :
” Hindi Ako Bipolar ”
Link to Blog: http://mentalhealthph.org/Stories/Blogs/9aaa9580-4aca-11e8-bd48-8710aa864451
1st Runner up: Group G
#StigmaCulture: What is it and How to Stop it
Link to their blog: http://mentalhealthph.org/Stories/Blogs/76a5ab40-4acd-11e8-bd48-8710aa864451
Best Tweet of the Day:
Patrick Abert Panal, @patrickpanal
Best Image of the Day
Social Media Influencer of the day was @jewelenrile_
With many retweets of her posts
A Jewel of a selfie :
Congratulations guys !!
Thank you to our talented, lovely and lively event hosts:
Dana Mangampat and Pauline Calina.
Thank you, Miss Christine Carlos, Veteran Thespian, Advocate, aka
Tita of Manila for the interactive fun
( Photo: Nica Mangampat, Miss Carlos and Dhanika Garcia)
The Mental Health Blogathon was a huge eye opener for me. It enlightened me in so many ways. The many questions in my mind were answered.
I now have a better and deeper understanding about Mental Health.
I also felt that a deeper calling within me was answered.
That’s why I am looking forward to co-Organizing again, the next Mental Health Event or activity.
Im thinking, perhaps the next topic would be :
Understanding Mental Health of young children.
Salute and thanks so much to the core team who I worked with in this First Mental Health Blogathon:
Paulo Miguel Larracas
Love you guys! Powerhugs!
And to all the hardworking & selfless volunteers, the passionate attendees of our First Mental Health Blogathon , Thank you ! Powerhugs pa more !
I Hope a seed was planted in your heart.
I Hope you all become more inspired with every blog entry that you write, or for every social media post that you make.
Remember that you are loved.
That you are not alone.
You are never alone.
You are worth the fight.
You are worth your life.
Til our next Mental Health activity!
With Kates Ante, Roy DahilDahil ,
Dhanika Garcia and Nica Mangampat. During one of our pre-event meetings for the Mental Health Blogathon
Christine Bersola- Babao
Is Veteran Media Personality
Mom of Two kids- 13yr old Anya &
8yr old Nio
Devoted Wifey to Broadcast Journalist Mr. Julius Babao
I support Mental Health .
Painting behind me is by artist
On exhibit at Art Cube Gallery