The Palawan chapter office of the Philippine Mental Health Association (PMHA) is moving to a new location on October 5 as it makes its services more accessible and supportive for vulnerable locals seeking assistance in mental health care.
PMHA local chapter chair Fr. Eugene Elivera said Wednesday that their new office will be on the 2nd floor of the FD Building in Barangay Manggahan in the city’s downtown area.
According to Fr. Elivera, relocating their office will help bring the mental health association’s presence to the attention of Palaweños seeking mental health care and even offer support to the local chapter.
“Ngayon talaga ay we found our new home at welcoming para sa ating mental health, this is actually the first office—ito talaga ay may character, may address at may tao. Proper office and counseling center. This is our mission, our purpose na we make advocacy ng mental health accessible to many if not to all,” he said.
“Kasi kapag meron ka knowledge na meron kang pupuntahan na lugar, malaking bagay din ‘yon. Nakalathala rin ang ating contact numbers, emails natin, Facebook. So we think, everything available in order to be accessible and connected. This way, ma-facilitate natin at magkaroon ng system ang ating mission sa mental health,” he added.
The PMHA-Palawan stayed for over two years at the provincial capitol before it found a place in the FD Building.
It will be open even during office hours, and will still accommodate calls anytime, he said.
“We are very happy, proud, and thankful sa mga tumutulong sa atin. We have been dreaming, advocating, lobbying na magkaroon tayo ng office. At saka syempre para sa Palawenos na meron gagabay, kaagapay sa mental health,” he said.
Based on the observation of the PMHA-Palawan, there is still a steady rise in the number of people suffering from mental health problems such as depression, which is exacerbated by stigma.
The presence of the PMHA-Palawan office may also assist to eliminate the stereotypes associated with seeking mental health treatment.
“This is another advocacy of Philippine Mental Health Association to talk it out, to be open. Lagi natin sinasabi na ‘It’s okay not to be okay’, at the same time to educate people na kailangan natin ng bukas na isipan sa approaches natin at sa pagtanggap sa mga taong nangangailangan ng tulong natin sa mental health,” he said.
“Dati ito ay taboo, hindi napag-uusapan. At saka kapag hindi napag-uusapan, nadadagdagan ‘yong bigat ng dinadala so itong office ay mag-i-encourage din to reach out, to connect with people at huwag sarilihin ang pinagdadaanan. Lalo na dahil panahon ng pandemya at meron na naman surge dito sa Puerto, Palawan. All the more na dapat maging sensitive tayo sa kalagayan ng bawat isa, the same time maging sensible tayo sa ating mga sinasabi,” he added.
Bishop Socrates Mesiona of the Apostolic Vicariate of Puerto Princesa (AVPP) has also entrusted Fr. Elivera with the Apostolate of Mental Health.
As a non-profit organization, the local chapter, according to Fr. Elivera, need financial assistance. He stated that the PMHA-Palawan must pay for staff, property rental, and resources in order to offer free services to residents.
Devie Mae Navarro, the PMHA-Palawan program coordinator, and a licensed social worker stated that the financial aspect is a problem for them, which is why they’re working with the provincial and municipal health committees.
The association currently supports its finances by encouraging locals to register for membership aside from the assistance provided by its main office.
“Isa ay ang aming membership na tinatawag, meron kaming iba-ibang membership. We have lifetime worth na P3,000. Meron din kami para sa students na worth P10, P20 and for professional na worth P300 for one year. Iyon ang isa namin way para hindi lang kami nakakakuha ng additional funds, meron din kami naibibigay pabalik sa mga gustong tumulong sa amin,” she said.
“Meron din kami sa organizations, kung nais din nila maging kapartner talaga si PMHA ay sa membership din. Kapag organizations ay nasa P10,000 ang membership sa amin—most important ay ‘yong money na nakukuha namin ay naibabalik namin sa community na may mas need. Ang membership ang ginagamit naming na means para makapag-conduct ng free consultations,” she added.
The COVID-19 hampered the plan of the chapter to widen the scope of its activities and advocacies. Despite its struggle in funding, PMHA-Palawan continuously advocates the dissemination of the right information about mental health.
“Hindi pa tayo sobrang laki kaya we aim din na mas mapalaki pa. Malaking tulong siya in terms of work force din kasi kapag nagpa-member sila sa amin, sila rin ang i-under namin sa volunteer program lalo na kung professionals ito. We give trainings to them if they want na tumulong sa PMHA for free,” she said.
“Isa talaga ‘yan (funds) sa talagang concern syempre we are non-profit and given na non-government pa, talagang ang non-government ay nabubuhay doon sa support from the community, from the LGU. However, despite of—as of now, hindi pa ganoon ka-stable ang fundings namin, we have national office of PMHA. Continuous na nagsu-support sa amin in terms of financial,” she added.
Individuals who would like to extend their support may reach their numbers at 0936-285-5204 and 0938-832-4798 or send them a message in the email at firstname.lastname@example.org or through the official Facebook page.