No More Shame: This Online Platform Wants Us to ‘Break the Stigma’ on Seeking Help for Mental Health - The Scene

“It’s okay for your skin and your mental health to not be perfect, and to seek help for both.”

A recent forum organized by the Philippine Press Institute highlighted the increasing mental health struggles of the everyday Filipino—a problem that ramped up even more since the pandemic started. 

READ ALSO: Self-Care: When Is The Right Time To Seek Professional Help For Your Mental Health?

In the forum, the lack of resources and platforms were pointed as some of the reasons why this mental health crisis persists. 

But these are only symptoms of a much larger reason; there are scant few resources allocated and nary a platform created because there is still a cultural belief that deems mental health issues as something shameful. 

In the country, one of the “popular beliefs is that depression and anxiety are non-existent, and that mental illnesses are something to be ashamed of,” reads a journal on the “The State Of Mental Health in the Philippines” in Frontiers

This stigma is what BYS Philippines wishes to combat in creating a online portal that provides access to mental health resources. 

Advocacy work

In recent years, we’ve seen growth in awareness of mental health and the need for treatment. Despite this progress, the majority still find it difficult to acknowledge their issues, let alone seek help for them. 

Fundamental lack of understanding, as well as access to assessment and treatment, and expectations of prejudice and discrimination against people who have a diagnosis all exacerbate barriers to mental health care. Most end up suffering in silence, especially during the pandemic.

It is for this reason that BYS Philippines has decided to step up its efforts in mental health awareness. 

“BYS, for those who don’t know, stands for Be Yourself,” shares Angie Goyena, President of iFace, Inc. “But it’s really hard to Be Yourself if and when you don’t love yourself or when your current self is going through something extremely difficult.” 

Goyena continues that it’s hard if you “can’t break the stigma of acknowledging your internal pain and seeking help, and most importantly judging ourselves and others for not having a perfect mental health state.” 

The brand, which has been in the Philippines since 2012, believes that challenging the negative societal perceptions of mental disorders requires education and empathy. 

Through its different partners—the Mindfulness, Love, and Compassion Institute for Psychosocial Services Inc. lead by Dr. Honey Carandang, licensed psychologist Gisa Paredes of Healing Minds, and the creative team of Where To Next—it wants to provide a way to provide sound and responsible mental health help.

This has led to the birth of Break Your Stigma, the brand’s digital platform that gives access to a directory of mental health professionals and other resources that can help them take control of their own healing.

Sharing space

Just a note: Break Your Stigma is an advocacy platform and not an accredited medical organization. It does not provide interventions, but creates a space where you can share information about medical practitioners who can. If you or a person you know is in crisis, these resources can provide immediate help.

Through the website, it is the brand’s fervent hope that we all learn new ways to be kinder to ourselves and to one another.

“We should normalize talking about mental health the way we talk about skin care. It’s okay for your skin and your mental health to not be perfect,” Goyena adds, “and to seek help for both.” 

She points out that it’s as perfectly acceptable “to have a psychiatrist as it is to have a dermatologist. If you don’t feel guilty when your skin or makeup isn’t flawless, you shouldn’t feel guilty when your mental health isn’t either.”

Banner Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

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