Safeguarding mental health during crisis

Safeguarding mental health during crisis 

By Gabriel Lizada
Master of Counselling, Monash University , Class of 2017

2020 Lizada Gab Photo.jpg

My experience studying in Australia has significantly helped me understand how important mental health is in our everyday life. Whether an individual is “mentally healthy”, suffering in silence, or acting normal, everybody needs to take care of their own mental health. The openness of mental health programs such as the “R U Okay Day” served as my motivation in advocating for mental health in the Philippines.

As we all know, by experience and through stories, this COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we think, feel, and act in our daily lives. This pandemic has put a spotlight on the importance of safeguarding one’s own mental health and the well-being of others. With this insight, I have decided to put my education and training into good use. I believe that if I can help, even just one person, during this COVID pandemic, then I would say that my initiatives were a success. So, I decided to embark on a journey on helping others with their mental health starting with Mindfulness Mondays.

Mindfulness Mondays was a 4-week program I launched during the month of April where I gave free online 30-minute mindfulness sessions. Each session targeted different emotions and cognitions that an individual might be feeling during this pandemic. I was confident to give these sessions because I was able to attend sessions on mindfulness to improve my current knowledge while I was still studying in Melbourne.

A few months after, I was asked to give a webinar on Happiness and Positive Psychology sponsored by the Psychological Association of the Philippines (PAP). In this webinar, I focused on how Positivity is not the only option during crisis. Instead of seeking happiness, individuals should different ways to flourish to help cope one’s own well-being. The live session was attended by about 700 individuals and currently has 20,000 views in Faeebook.

On the side, I have done mental health and well-being talks to institutions and schools to help them cope with this pandemic. Overall, I am content with what I have done to help fellow Filipinos during this crisis. However, I know that there are more lives to help and this is what motivates me to continue helping as much as I can.

When this pandemic is over, I hope that we, as a country, will begin to prioritize mental health in the same way we put premium on physical health. I hope that we understand that both mental health and physical health are not two separate entities, but rather, two facets of well-being that should be prioritized simultaneously.

This is my bayanihan story.