It has been an open secret since 2020 that I have been getting help for my mental health struggles… And while doing so, I have learned a few things.
First, we as a country have made strides in acknowledging mental health struggles and getting help. Yes, there are still communities where even communicating mental health awareness is still severely lacking… But in those that have accepted it, getting help has started to lose the “he needs to go to the asylum/you should avoid her, she’s crazy and she’s going to physically hurt you/they’re just being dramatic” stigma.
Second – and unfortunately, I might add – the help currently available is severely lacking. Apart from the fact that only 3-7% of the total national health care budget in the Philippines gets used for mental health, there is only 1 doctor per 80,000 mental health patients (another set of data says there are 0.5 psychiatrists, 0.5 psychiatric nurses, and 0.1 psychologists per 100,000 people in the Philippines)*.
I can vouch for this from personal experience: I am in between psychiatrists right now because the previous one – who I’ve been working with for 6 years – has stopped being professional enough to manage his time wisely and has affected my treatment… and looking for a new one is hard. Just to set appointments with a competent one (who would understand that I work with alcohol but am not an alcoholic) is ridiculous!
I’ve also seen first-hand how ill-trained suicide hotline volunteers are in the country – making the situation worse by simply following a call-center type flowchart of procedures instead of analyzing exactly what the patient needs. I’ve also seen one of my mentees have a “chicken and egg” situation: Not getting help because of financial constraints but needing help in the first place because of said financial constraints.
Having said that, I made a promise to myself to take this issue and contribute to making the situation a little bit better… Not completely solve it (if anyone’s diligent enough to dig through the data I provided, it’s clear that one wino is not going to have the solution), but at least take a crack at it by partnering with people who know better than me (and have the heart for it).
Enter Living Free Foundation. Living Free Foundation is a non-profit organization that creates support groups and training for recovery facilitators with focus on family/relationship problems and dependency/codependency related problems.
They are launching a helpline, which will be composed of well-trained volunteers answering urgent calls for people in varying degrees of emotional distress.
One of my best friends Chef Jonas Ng and Mike Sy Yu of Red Panda Productions decided to partner up with Living Free Foundation for an online AMA featuring Spanish food and wine. The funds gathered for the event will help sponsor the volunteers’ training, meals, and communication devices. During the online event, participants will learn how to cook simple Spanish fare and pair them with accessible Spanish wines… Because as Chef Jonas and I always say, “anybody can make a gourmet feast at home.”
The event is happening on September 17, 2022 at 5:00 pm via zoom. People may reach out to us via Instagram, @2shotsandapintofficial to get tickets and/or donate.
See you there! Salud!
Special Thanks to Bea T. for the data