CEBU CITY, Philippines. In celebration of this year’s mental health month, Barangay Lahug, conducted a forum on mental health awareness last Saturday, October 8, 2022 at the Lahug Barangay Hall. The event is made possible through the efforts of its barangay council spearheaded by Hon. Michael Paquibot, Chairman on the Barangay Committee on Health, Hospital Services, and Sanitation.
The gathering is one of the prime initiatives of Lahug’s Barangay Behavioral Health Unit (BBHU), a program dedicated to provide assistance to the mental needs of its residents. BBHU is a brainchild of psychologist Manuel “Pocholo” de Los Santos, who also served as the resource speaker of the recently concluded forum. De Los Santos is also the program director of BBHU.
Hon. Michael Paquibot welcomed the participants of the forum by highlighting the importance of mental health. He noted its relevance in a society that has collectively faced the challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic. Hon. Paquibot also lauded the people behind BBHU, particularly Hon. Mary Ann de Los Santos, for their efforts and support since its launching in 2019.
The Fundamentals of Mental Health
Mental health issues have been much more prevalent during the past 20 years, particularly among young individuals. The mental health crisis has been referred to as a “second pandemic” by some specialists since it has been accelerated by the pressures of the COVID-19 epidemic and trauma of the previous year.
At the onset of his speech, psychologist Manuel “Pocholo” de Los Santos presented the integrated health concept, explaining that health, is composed of an individual’s physical, mental, and spiritual domain. He also discussed the behavior triad which is the result of a person’s thoughts and feelings.
De Los Santos emphasized the value of cultivating good energy in maintaining a sound mind. “This flow of good energy comes from the depth of your being. When you are filled with this energy, you feel like you can take over the world,” de Los Santos shared. He added that when good energy is blocked, negativities come in place.
De Los Santos cited having a spiritual heart as the key point in allowing good energy to flow into someone’s life. “You have a wellspring of beautiful energy inside of you. When you are open, you feel it. When you are close, you don’t,” he said.
Participants were then presented with an expert-backed and practical guide on how to stay open. Among the strategies presented by de Los Santos is to keep one’s heart and mind open, and to deal with any life experience with awareness. He shared that the most important thing in life is inner energy, which can be improved through meditation, awareness, and willful efforts.
The forum was graced by content creators coming from various groups. Present during the event are some members of Cebu Online News Press Corps, Sugbo Digital Influencers (SugDI), and Bisaya YouTubers Club (BYC).
Barangay Behavioral Health Unit (BBHU)
Lahug’s Barangay Behavioral Health Unit (BBHU) aims to educate people down to the grassroots level to be able to reach out to those who urgently needs it. Among the projects initiated by the BBHU are psycho-educational programs, individual therapies, couple therapy and skills training.
BBHU is composed of a team of professionals working together to achieve its goals. To date, BBHU has psychiatrists, two psychologists, and psycho-social workers.
People with mental health disorders frequently face significant human rights breaches, discrimination, and stigma. Despite the fact that many mental health illnesses may be successfully treated for comparatively little money, there is still a wide disparity between those who require care and those who have access to it.
De Los Santos hopes to redefine mental health through their efforts. “People really don’t know. When you talk about mental health, they talk about – crazy, but mental health is different from the disorder,” de Los Santos shared.
BBHU is open to help and accommodate anyone who needs mental health assistance. The group is working together with medical groups in Metro Cebu to cater emergency cases.
BBHU will hold a separate forum on mental health disorders next week to further spread awareness on the matter. Its office is located in the Lahug Barangay Health Center.