There is no doubt that the year 2020 will go down in the history of mankind as one of the most, if not the most, damaging in terms of loss of lives or global economic and political upheaval due to COVID-19. Add to that is the most likely long-term impact on mental health as the world embraces this so-called “new normal” amid a pandemic that has completely changed how people live their lives.
Focusing on making sure that people feel heard and supported, Globe Telecom, through its Hope Bank online community, has launched the “#StartANewDay – Let’s talk about mental health” webinar series with “Insights for Millennials and Gen Zs” as the first topic, being the two age groups most affected by stress, anxiety, and depression during the community quarantine.
Among the notable speakers were mental health advocates led by Sen. Risa Hontiveros, author and principal sponsor of Republic Act No. 11036 (Philippine Mental Health Law); adult psychiatrist Dr. Corazon Angela Cuadro, occupational medicine specialist Dr. Gia Sison, showbiz personality Kiana Valenciano and #MentalHealthPH co-Founder Roy Dahildahil.
With four children at home, Sen. Hontiveros said the pandemic changed a lot in the way they live but it allowed them to be more open to each other. She added that the prolonged community quarantine may be used to form a stronger bond with each member of the family or address unresolved issues.
“This pandemic revealed how badly we need one another so I suggest we check up on each other, drink 8 glasses of water daily, turn off the news once in a while, find time to do things and enjoy it if you can and take a rest. In the midst of a public health crisis every facet of our health matters. We must take care of ourselves and that amid all that is happening, remember that mental health, especially among the young generation, will always matter.”
Dr. Cuadro, on the other hand, said that the rise in mental health issues among millennials and Gen Z’s is not an isolated case. For this younger set who are used to going out and being free but are now limited to virtual contacts, it may be difficult for most to cope. “It’s good that they are now more open to express themselves and there’s a safe space now to talk about them and be allowed to express these emotions and experiences, especially possible anxieties and depressive symptoms.”
During the webinar, young singer-songwriter Valenciano who struggles with depression and anxiety said the pandemic taught her to confront directly the issues she’s had in the past. “I had to change my whole thought process, the toxic thinking, I learned to appreciate things more. I also learned to flip things over, especially those seen on social media, to keep my feet grounded and focused on what I can do for myself and let go of things I have no control of.”
In light of millennials and Gen Z’s complicated relationship with social media which is also another source of anxiety and depression, mental health advocacy group leader Dahildahil offered a few tips like being aware of the kind of content they are consuming, the manner content is shared which can also affect other people, and understanding how they were affected by it. “Emotions can be contagious, so is disinformation. Do some self-checking, how were they affected by social media content and ask themselves why do they use social media. Is it about to connect, to express, to inspire people, and how does it help them? If using social media is not helpful anymore, best to take some time off it, more of a digital detox, to also protect themselves,” he said.
Dahildahil’s views were shared by Dr. Sison, who heads the Makati Medical Center’s Women’s Wellness Center who said that millennials and Gen Z’s can also avoid being overwhelmed by all the information and negativity by sticking to credible sources of information only. “Limit sources of information in the Philippines and gather the more credible facts and even limit social media sites being followed. Use the ‘block’ and ‘mute’ feature of the phone if need be to avoid being overwhelmed.”
All the speakers also expressed gladness that there is now a platform where mental health issues can be discussed freely and positively, where everyone can speak up and let their voices and concerns about mental health are heard and create positive change. The more it is being talked about, the better opportunity there is to find solutions, they pointed out.
As the country’s leading telco, Globe supports the promotion of mental health through its various initiatives such as Hope Bank, a safe online space for everyone to openly express their feelings and thoughts about mental health. It seeks to empower those undergoing emotional and mental challenges caused by Covid-19 and to boost the morale of frontliners and patients including their families and friends. To contribute, members can just post messages using hashtag #SpreadHOPE both on their personal profiles and in the group. These can be through photos, artworks, quotes, song lyrics, poems, videos or anything that expresses hope and positivity.
Globe also partnered with organizations such as the UP Diliman Psychosocial Services (UPD PsycServ) and New Good Feelings (NGF) Mindstrong’s HOPELINE for free counseling or psychotherapy services for frontliners, Covid-19 patients and relatives and people under monitoring or under investigation. Just call 2919 (Globe and TM subscribers) or 88044673 (landline) for HOPELINE or send a text or Viber message to PsycServ at 09063743466 or 09167573157 with name and concern or accomplish the form found at http://bit.ly/PsycServPH to receive a call from a PsycServ volunteer. PsycServ is open Monday to Friday from 9 am to 5 pm.
For more about Globe Telecom, visit www.globe.com.ph.