While the Mental Health Law was recently signed a couple of months back, there is still so much to be done to address the stigma surrounding depression and other mental health disorders. A lot of people who suffer from mental health issues find it hard to speak out and seek help because they are scared to be judged—not many people can understand that such conditions exist, after all. Another reason is that they simply do not know where to go and who to turn to.
It’s these reasons that led Sandra Tabinas, 28, to create Mental Health A-WHERE-ness PH, an interactive map that lists mental health facilities in the Philippines.
The website is pretty straightforward. You’ll see a map of the Philippines with pinned locations of various mental health facilities. You have an option to toggle between free and paid facilities.
Scroll and zoom in to your chosen location, click on the pins—blue for free facilities or green for paid—and a small window will pop out with the name, address, contact details, and additional information about the facility. It also includes any initial and succeeding fees that a patient will have to pay for a session.
Sandra, who suffers from depression, wanted to find a way to assist those who are ashamed to ask for help.
“It also took me a long time to seek help because of the stigma surrounding mental health. I never asked friends or family kasi I didn’t need the judgment na makadagdag pa sa nararamdaman ko,” Sandra tells SmartParenting.com.ph in an interview via Facebook Messenger.
“I wanted to encourage those [who may be suffering] to seek professional help on their own,” she shares.
Together with a friend, Sandra, who is a geographer, used her background to start the project on September 2017. “But we had to stop because that was when my depression peaked,” Sandra shared. The map took a backseat while she sought professional help.
Sandra started gathering data again to finish the map on March 2018. She sourced data from #MentalHealthPH, a private organization that aims to create an inclusive and empowered community for people affected by mental health problems, and a Reddit thread that listed facilities for those seeking psychological advice. She then launched the map on Wix, a free website builder, in May 2018.
She bought a domain two months ago, so it would be easier for other people to remember her website. She also presented the map at the "State of the Map 2018," an annual conference about free and open maps held in Milan, Italy.
Creating the map helped Sandra open up to friends and family regarding her condition. “They’ve been really supportive especially my parents. They became more informed na marami rin talagang mga tao na may ganung pinagdadaanan.”
It also opened Sandra’s eyes to the state of mental health in the country. “We are really in need of more support on mental health. There are a lot of suicide cases and mental health problems that have not been addressed. Partly because [the government] only has a small budget dedicated to mental health,” she says.
The map also points out a glaring reality. “A lot of the facilities and resources are in Metro Manila or city capitals, but kaunti lang sa far-flung areas and provinces,” Sandra shares.
The map is still in its initial stages, and Sandra plans to expand it further. “I’m planning to add info or tags on the facilities if they are LGBT-friendly or not. And add more data—I haven’t covered everything,” she says. To help with this, Sandra set up a contributor page where visitors can add info and locations on the map.
“I also would like to update these data on another mapping resource, OpenStreetMap, so we can properly tag these facilities catering to mental health,” she adds.
Sandra, who is currently studying for her Master’s Degree at the University of the Philippines-Diliman, has shown the map to the school’s Departments of Psychology, Geography, and Engineering. One of her professors even suggested that she apply for a grant because the map can be used for further studies.
While she is working on securing that, Sandra would like to ask for help in data gathering. “Like I said, I would like to tag LGBT-friendly clinics and hospitals. The only way to confirm that is to call all of them and ask. Eh buong Pilipinas siya, so it would be difficult, not to mention costly,” she says.
Get in touch with Sandra at firstname.lastname@example.org
Don't be afraid to reach out if you are feeling anxious, helpless, or despondent. If you need someone to talk to:
- Crisis Line +633 893-7603 / +63 917 800-1123 / + 63 922 893-8944
- Manila Lifeline Center at +632 896-9191 or +63 917 854-9191
- Department of Health's 24-hour suicide prevention hotline Hopeline +632 804-4637 / +63 917 558-4673 and 2919 for Globe and TM subscribers
- You can also join SOS Philippines on Facebook, a support group founded for survivors of suicide loss and Filipinos undergoing mental health ailments like depression and bipolar disorder.
This story was updated on August 31, 2018 at 6:07 p.m.
This story originally appeared on Smartparenting.com.ph.
* Minor edits have been made by the Femalenetwork.com editors.