“Art allows for ease.” –Lisa Miles
The lack of a mental health act in the Philippines says a lot about how we look down on the importance of one’s mental health. Although an act was passed on the senate on the year 2014, it is not a law until now. The good thing however, is that there are online communities like Silakbo PH which takes action by informing the public about mental health issues.
Silakbo PH, founded by Rissa Coronel was once called Subjunctive Mood Swings on Facebook. Rissa shared that the idea of putting up the page just came last year when she felt like she had nothing to do because her graduation is just around the corner. She wanted to come up with a project filled with passion that she would be able to sustain as time goes by. As a result, the page was the birth of her love for art and her enthusiasm for mental health advocacy.
“We didn’t have anything mental-health specific here, so I decided to go for it. I know many people who cope via creative means, and I thought, maybe I could channel that: feature their art and give them a place to raise awareness,” Rissa explained.
For today’s generation, the page serves as a little online space where they can fully express themselves without anyone judging them. Silakbo PH caters to different people who chooses to share their art, may it be a painting, a literary piece, a short video or a song, that represents what they are feeling right at the moment. Silakbo, from its Filipino translation meaning the sudden rush of emotions, accepts art pieces from people who suffer from mental illnesses and who choose to cope with what they are going through.
Rissa, a psychology major graduate, stated that self expression was proven to be one of the most effective ways of nurturing one’s mental health. In fact, in her counselling class, they were taught that art therapy was a legitimate means of cultivating mental health, regardless of whether a person is mentally ill or not. She added that the contributors would often feel a sense of purpose when they create something out of what they are dealing with. The enjoyment and purpose someone felt by doing something they love add up to the things that they would look forward every day, helping them cope with their mental illnesses.
Furthermore, she also stated that the purpose of the page was to make people feel that their feelings are always valid in spite of what others say about it. It was created to let people know that their past or their illness does not define who they are. Silakbo aims to uplift people with mental health disorders by sharing and connecting with other people suffering from it through art.
Although Rissa’s efforts had been paying off with the good response on the page, she admitted that there is still so much work to do on breaking the stigma surrounding mental health patients.
“I don’t expect to change the discussion in the entire Philippines, not by a long shot. People look down on those with mental health problems. Outside safe spaces, people use otis and abnoy as slurs. People invalidate others’ feelings all the time. It doesn’t stop me from trying on my corner of the internet,” Rissa ended.
However, as long as the page is running, the hope it gives to the public would certainly reach a wider range of people, whether they suffer from a mental illness or they’ve lost a loved one because of it. As long as there are people who are passionate about educating the people on the importance of mental health, everyone would cling to the thought that someday, people would be more open to seek help and talk about what they are going through.
In case, you need something to get you through today, as Silakbo PH would say it, ‘You and your story are stronger than you think.’