When Moira Drew Severino launched her Rays of Hope campaign as a Senior Project last year, the effort was mainly to raise a very important issue today: mental health, depression, and suicide ideation.
The Rays of Hope Movement was meant to raise awareness about mental health and depression, and to do that, Moira staged a talk at the University of St. La Salle’s forum, with registered psychologist Dr. Marijoy Gaduyon as speaker.
Teens and young people are most vulnerable to mental health disorders and suicide ideation, Dr. Gaduyon says during the talk, and some of the causes are usually academic stress, or really high expectations from parents to excel.
But more than this is the utter lack of awareness and understanding of people when it comes to suicide, depression, and mental health.
“Whenever I have one of those episodes, whenever I feel down, my parents just tell me to ‘snap out of it’. I tried, but sometimes the overwhelming sadness just can’t be helped,” Lydia, who asked not to be named, tells DNX.
She tried to seek help from friends, tried to get them to understand why she’s entertaining thoughts to end it all. Some tried to guilt-trip her (“Think of your family. How would they feel?”). But the worst feeling was of somebody who advised her to just pray.
“That didn’t help,” she says, “I need somebody to understand what I am going through.”
There is, Dr. Gaduyon says in her talk, a need to “talk with not talk to” those who are undergoing mental health issues, suicide ideation, or depression.
Y4MH and the Champion for mental health
Enter Youth for Mental Health Foundation – Bacolod Chapter, which was established last year in USLS.
The Bacolod chapter of the mental health group was formed as one of the platforms of then University Student President Louie Raner as part of efforts to promote and incorporate mental health advocacies in USLS-USG and Bacolod City.
“The alarming reports of depression and suicide rates of the youth in the Philippines became our primary reason why we established the Y4MH Coalition Inc.- Bacolod Chapter,” Louie tells DNX.
The organization aims to “bring awareness and initiate activities to the youth of Bacolod City in hopes that we can promote mental health in a different approach and educate the parents about this matter,” Louie adds.
Thus, as mental health advocate, Louie didn’t hesitate to forge an alliance with Bacolod representative Cong. Greg Gasataya.
Why Cong. Greg? Because of all the solons based in Negros Occidental, he was the only one consistent with filing bills that aim to promote mental health.
One of these measures is the House Bill 6768, now re-filed as HB573.
The bill, known as the Universities and Colleges Mental Health Act, seeks to provide mental health services to students in State Universities and Colleges.
This act seeks to recruit, train, and train mental health experts in SUCs, as well as address “mental, developmental needs of the students”. What is good about the bill is it also includes parents – essential partners in mental health care – in the bill, the measure aims to provide support services to those with kids with mental health issues that need addressing.
Cong. Greg’s bill also aims to provide behavioral interventions, a proactive approach to dealing with mental health care, so that warning signs could be identified and immediately addressed.
It is a breath of fresh air, and it is something that the head for Y4MH is thankful for.
“I will be your champion,” Cong. Greg assures the mental health group as he and the Y4MH-Bacolod Chapter forged a partnership as they vowed to work hand-in-hand in pushing for the mental health agenda.
Thus, on March 23 of this year, Cong. Greg became the avowed champion for mental health.
“We are grateful for the continuing support of Cong. Greg and most especially for his Bill that will pave way for more help and services that can be offered to students in SUCs all over the country,” Louie says, adding, “We are glad that he accepted the challenge is our champion and partner in this endeavor.”
(Up next, the Born Brave fashion show on October 12.)