PLDT Inc. and Smart Communications, Inc. joined hands with local government units, non-government organizations, and religious groups in Visayas and Mindanao to help build mental health support groups in grassroots communities.
In VisMin, the Group conducted online mental health series, and Psychological First Aid (PFA) trainings upskilling the youth to provide immediate response to the psychological needs of disaster or trauma-affected youth and adults.
These efforts seek to challenge the stigma on mental health problems, promote the use of digital technologies to spread the advocacy, and set up a wider network of PFA responders enabling a correct line of information when mental health concerns arise.
“The youth are growing up alongside technology and so it is our responsibility, as a technology company, to enable them to live up to their full potential in a safe and kind environment both online and offline. Through our digital wellness advocacy, we spark conversations on mental health awareness, empower communities to positively impact young Filipinos through PFA trainings, channel sports and arts for strong mental resilience and wellbeing, and advocate policies that make the youth feel safer and happier,” said Stephanie V. Orlino, Head of Stakeholder Management at PLDT and Smart.
In Cebu, the group partnered with the Archdiocese of Cebu’s Commission on Youth to train youth volunteers on the basics of PFA. Consequently, the same training was conducted to health workers on Siargao Island enabled by their partnership with the Rural Health Unit of General Luna. While in Gensan and Butuan City, the Group continues to support their SK Federations’ campaign for a mental-health friendly city.
Over 150 youth volunteers were trained to become PFA responders in VisMin, and more than 100,000 people were reached by the mental health online series across the country.
“We are grateful to PLDT and Smart for partnering with us in our mental health advocacy. This is timely given the increase in mental health concerns among the youth. With the stereotypes surrounding mental health, we need to conduct more dialogues about it,” said Cynth Zephanee Nietes, SK Federation President of Butuan City.
These efforts form part of PLDT and Smart’s commitment to help the Philippines contribute to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, particularly UNSDG #3 that stands for good health and well-being, and UNSDG #16 that stands against abuse, violence, and exploitation of children.