February 20, 2023 (7:29 PM)

3 min read

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BREAKING THE STIGMA. Ateneo de Davao University psychiatrist Dr. Agnes B. Padilla discusses the stigmatization of emotional and psychological health during the first Mental Health Festival held last February 17 at the room F213. Photo by Jeni Anne Rosario

Creating an avenue to discuss health and well-being, the College Wellness and Testing Center (CWTC) gathered mental health institutions available for students and staff through its Life Always Matters Program (LAMP) in the first ever Mental Health Festival.

Peer Consulting Program (PCP) Moderator Kathlynn Keith Abaquita stated that mental health is constantly being discussed. Yet, the irony is that individuals tend to forget their own feelings and emotions, even invalidating them.

“Help is there. All you have to do is to normalize the help-seeking behavior that it is very fine to really reach out and talk to people,” she said. 

She also hopes that checking oneself, acknowledging feelings, and seeking help could encourage others to do the same.

“With that experience, you can share to other people that its very fine these different emotions and seek help.” 

Citing the World Health Organization, Dr. Agnes B. Padilla, the university psychiatrist, shared that 3.3 million cases, or 3.3% of the Philippines’ population, had depression in 2017. In the same year, the estimated deaths from suicide also reached 3.2 per 100,000 population.

Dr. Padilla emphasized that mental health is important now as it impacts daily lives and defines the quality of life. Yet, stigma prevents individuals from seeking help for their emotional and psychological problems. 

“Breaking the stigma is a form of suicide prevention,” she said.

According to the university psychiatrist, stigma can be reduced by talking openly about mental health issues, educating oneself and others by addressing misconceptions and negative comments through  facts, experiences, compassion.

She also advised the audience to be careful with the language used, noting that “words matter, especially for children.”

Dr. Padilla added that if one experiences mental health problems, they are encouraged to learn and understand and manage one’s feelings, talk to someone trusted,  and get closer to nature, among others.

“Common mental illnesses are preventable if recognized right away,” she said.

Dr. Padilla then indicated signs of when to seek professional help, such as difficulty sleeping for a day, changing appetites, struggling to get out of bed, and losing interest.

The Ignatian Spirituality and Formation Office Director, Fr. Jessel Gerard Gonzales, encouraged everyone to build a community of passion, grace, and fire. 

“We will be more alive if we have the warmth of each other.”

Moreover, Fr. Joel E. Tabora, SJ, commended the event, saying, “To have a non-threatening festival of mental health and breaking stigma is a good idea.”

Many participating organizations, agencies, and associations were present to showcase their counseling, consultations, psychotherapy, and other services to the participants. The list of participating organizations can be viewed here.

The event occurred last February 17, 2023, in Room F213, Finster Building.

If you are experiencing problems with your mental health, contact the CWTC through their Facebook page or email them at [email protected]. You may also visit PCP or the National Center for Mental Health to seek help.



End the silence of the gagged!

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