Love is at the heart of healing
On October 10, Mental Health Awareness Day, actress Iza Calzado-Wintle revealed a painful truth to the public: She lost her mother to depression. In a poignant interview with Sarah Meier, she opened up about feeling shame most of her childhood, bearing witness to her mom’s illness—without fully understanding it.
On coming forward after years of keeping it hidden, Sarah shares, “I feel like I speak so openly about the things that I’m going through—how I am—but there’s one part that I’m not honest about. It is a very crucial part of who I am and why I [have] to go through this healing journey. And most important part of all, it’s for my mother. Perhaps somebody will find inspiration, hope, meaning.” She ends with a hope-filled declaration: “Oftentimes, people wait for things to go wrong before they seek help. This sharing of her story is also my greatest gift to her. I want to let her know that I am no longer ashamed and [that] I understand her.”
She Talks Asia held iMatter: A Conference on Mental Well-Being last October 12 to generate awareness and drive dialogue on mental health. Iza is a co-founder alongside Sarah Meier, Lynn Pinugu, Bianca Gonzalez-Intal and Victoria Herrera. It acts as a safe space to promote empathy and recognize the need for healing as a community.
On Managing Anxiety
The intimate panel on managing anxiety was moderated by actress, host and mother Isabelle Daza with other mental health advocates. As someone living in the spotlight, Isabelle goes through what she calls “social media anxiety.” In July, she posted about the effects of social media on one's mental health on her YouTube channel where she interviewed a registered psychologist. To shed light on this, she shares, “We are human beings, we're not human doings. It is enough for us to be. Our value is not based on the things that we do. We are enough.”
Dr. Sylvia Claudio, dean of the College of Social Work and Community Development at the University of the Philippines, shared pragmatic ways to care for one's mental health. She notes, “Be self-aware. If [something] goes in the way of your joy [and] your social functioning, seek a mental health professional. One of the keys [to] dealing with ordinary anxiety—or other forms of anxiety—is proper work and life balance. It's very difficult in this modern age; the wall between work and home is broken down completely. It’s fast-paced. We’re asked to be far more productive and far more successful. Social relations have broken down. We need to talk about mental health habits of happiness, such as exercise, in order to promote it.”
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Mental Health Matters
Before joining Binibining Pilipinas and becoming Miss International in 2016, Kylie Verzosa suffered from clinical depression. In 2017, she created Mental Health Matters PH, an online support group for people suffering from mental health problems. She treats her bouts of anxiety in a holistic manner—through positive thinking and a complete change in lifestyle. This includes exercise, sleep, better eating habits and also creating positive connections. She shares, “It's because of the darkest nights that I learned to be at my happiest…There’s no shame in going to a therapist to help organize our thoughts…We are a combination of the people we surround ourselves with. Have a good support group to better your mental health.”
Singer and AB Psychology student Claudia Barretto was diagnosed with high-functioning depression and anxiety as a teenager. She considers herself diligent when it comes to self-reflection, which helped her deal with her illness. She shares, “I was doing everything right but I wasn’t happy—even if I was self-aware. I sought professional help and it changed my life…I started writing down my thoughts [and] looking at it from a different perspective. [My thoughts] became tangible; it became something that I [owned].” In September, she created a mental health awareness campaign called Mind Games by Claudia in partnership with #MentalHealthPH.
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Dr. Shiela Tan, licensed meta-coach and Flourish Circle co-founder, closed the panel discussion with heartfelt food for thought. She shares, “We are unconditionally valuable—period.” Our worth is not tied to our productivity or our progress. Invest in your mental well-being by accepting what you're given. Our being, in itself, is a miracle—one that should inspire awe and gratitude.
For Philippine residents seeking immediate assistance, you may call the below hotlines anytime. They have trained respondents who are ready to listen and assist you 24/7.
National Center for Mental Health (NCMH)
0917 558 HOPE (4673)
2919 (toll-free number for all GLOBE and TM subscribers)
Art Alexandra Lara