October is the month for Mental Health Awareness, and as the push for mental health grows ever larger, the University of the Philippines has held a university-wide search for projects that promote the advocacy for mental health entitled: “Sandigan, Sandalan: Search for UP Student Mental Health Advocacy Projects.” last September 2021. The two entries from UP Visayas secured a place in the Top 10, earning cash prize incentives. One of the entries is a project from socio-civic political organization Partido sang Mainuswagon nga Bumulutho (PMB), who forwarded their initiatives, Isip Mo Sagip Ko and Bookmark This: You Matter.
Isip Mo Sagip Ko, established in 2018, highlighted the mental health status quo in Region VI, particularly in Iloilo, and aimed to propagate awareness and self-care through several activities such as Mental Health Forum, Recreational Activity like Yoga, and Psychological First Aids like Support Group Discussions. On the other hand, Bookmark This: You Matter, carried out during February 2021, was done in partnership with the Local Government Unit of Dueñas and Dueñas Municipal Health Office - which successfully distributed 12,000 #MentalHealthMatters Bookmarks to 4,000 elementary, high school, and ALS students in Dueñas.
Behind this entry is a team of 14 people, spearheaded by Gabrielle Yngcong, Feliz Noemi Espinosa, and Louise Ang. The group created the project in memorial and celebration of Suicide Prevention Month and World Mental Health Day. Additionally, it was created with the values of PMB in mind: promotion of mental health and everything surrounding it - from awareness, self-care, erasure of stigma, and most especially accessible facilities.
Yngcong, one of the team leaders, has stated: “We really did not participate to win, as we just took this opportunity to highlight the mental health situation here in Region 6 and at the same time showcase the mental health initiatives of our organization. This honor presented to us by Sandigan, Sandalan provided not only the means for us to continue our projects but also reinforced and strengthened the organization in our move to forward our campaigns for mental health.”