First at OLFU! The Psychological Society of Our Lady of Fatima University (OLFU) – Valenzuela Campus recently made history as it joined the Philippine Mental Health Association’s (PMHA) Light Up Blue Ceremony for the first time, a creative celebration of World Mental Health Day on 10 October 2023.
Along with faculty members of the Psychology Department, Fatimanians gathered at St. Benedict Hall, Tamaraw Building and, from there, marched their way to the RISE Tower for the solidarity walk.
The pre-event activity was a visual call for a more accepting community for mental health conversations encompassing the theme “Huwag kang Matakot, Kasama Mo Naman Ako: Empowering Mental Health for a Valuable Life.”
Leaders of offices also joined the significant affair including Dean Ernesto Leuterio of the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS), Psychology Department Program Head Maria Elena Santos, and University Co-Curricular Coordinator Reynaldo Carandang Jr.
Gathered at the RISE Tower Grounds, a program preceded the Light Up Blue Ceremony where two faculty members who are likewise experienced counselors led a validating discussion series on mental health.
Before that, Psychology Society Adviser Stephen Mino rendered an opening talk that advocated empathy and self-validation.
“Sa nakakapagod na mundo, okay lang ang tumigil pansamantala [In this testing world, it is all right to take a pause],” said Mino adding that it is a must to acknowledge human nature that gets tired, pained, and broken.
“Sa mga bagay na ‘yon, lagi mong tatandaan na may kasama ka, na espesyal ka, kaibig-ibig ka, at hindi mo kailangan patunayan ang sarili mo sa iba. Sapat lang na mayroong ikaw na nagiging dahilan ng pagiging espesyal sa mga araw na pangkaraniwan [During those times, always remember that you have someone to lean on; that you are special; that you are loved; that you don’t need anyone to prove your worth. You are enough reason that makes ordinary days special],” continued Mino who then appealed for everyone to become instruments to help those who are in need.
The first discussion was delivered by Julie Anne Bulisig who rallied for unity and commitment to mental advocacy, in fact a move that the meaningful event had targeted to amplify.
While recalling her clients who experienced abuse and trauma and the confusion to process their emotions especially during the peak of the pandemic, the counselor later revealed her motivation to continue the profession – every client who seeks to find their way back to mental healing.
“They need us. They need someone na makikinig sa kanila. They need someone na sasamahan sila sa healing process na ‘yon, [They need us. They need someone who will listen to them. They need someone who will give them company in their healing process],” said the licensed Psychometrician.
By sharing her vulnerability with the audience, Bulisig enlightened the attendees of the need to courageously process buried emotions so that meaningful relationships are fostered.
Another faculty member of the esteemed department by the name of Monique Aira Dela Cruz sustained the discussion with practical strategies to nurture mental health.
Consequently, the expert promoted building resilience and finding balance in everyday lives which involve employing self-care habits, creating supportive networks, managing online media consumption, and developing effective stress management.
Also, Dela Cruz reminded the students to wisely handle academic pressure, relationship stress, and the likes through an integrated process that starts in recognizing and identifying stressors followed by the implementation of coping strategies.
Empowering the OLFU community with more practical tips, Dela Cruz refreshed everybody of the commonly ignored hacks to maintain a mentally healthy lifestyle that requires regular physical exercise, healthy diet, and most of all, taking quality sleep.
In the end, the educator emphasized the crucial need to prioritize one’s well-being in order to provide support for others.
“We empower healthier and happier [lives]. Mental health is not a destination but a journey. Let us commit to taking positive steps forward and creating a society that values and supports well-being,” she concluded.
Various artistic presentations from interpretative dance, spoken word poetry to live singing by young talented Fatimanians officially launched the Light Up Blue Ceremony at exactly 7:00 p.m. The RISE Tower Grounds illuminated with blue lights, creating a combination of cathartic visual and uplifting melodies accompanied by the Eraserheads’ hit songs “With a Smile” and “Huwag Kang Matakot [Do Not Be Afraid].”
“Embracing the soothing shades of blue as its emblematic color, the Psychological Society – OLFU Valenzuela paints a canvas of empathy, understanding, and support. In the vast tapestry of human existence, mental health is the thread that weaves us all together,” the student organization described the event in an online statement on 10 October 2023.
The #LightUpBlueForMentalHealth is a four-year old campaign by the Philippine Mental Health Association (PMHA). – Raymond Lumagsao