Rest in Power, Doc @giasison, MH Champ (#UsapTayo Anniv Special) 


April 10, 2024

Writer: K Ballesteros
Editor: Richardson Mojica
Graphics: Jia Moral, Krystle Labio
Moderator: Roy Dahildahil

Mental Health Advocacy in the Philippines

Every form of advocacy work in the Philippines requires enthusiasm and passion. In 2023, coalition-building and advocacy networks supplemented the work of formal and institutional systems to empower patients, to increase health literacy, and to redress any prejudice or discrimination and stigma attached to mental health challenges and the individuals who experience them. Allies and champions at every level of advocacy work together to increase the visibility of mental health issues. Advocates and programs that seek to increase mental health literacy compete within a crowded visual media environment where information is easy to access, but very difficult to assess in terms of veracity and quality. This is where Dr. Gia Sison’s work, reach, and voice were most important. 


Mental Health Champion: Dr. Gia Sison 

The announcement of Dr. Gia’s passing was noted by government agencies like the Department of Health (DOH) and news media, each feature citing her contribution to mental health advocacy. 


Dr. Gia Sison was an ardent, vocal, and valuable mental health advocate and champion. Her work in advocacy helped to create and sustain awareness about depression, anxiety, and accessing help. Her voice and presence on the podcast  Walwal Sesh reached thousands of Filipinos, and enriched the ongoing conversations in and around mental health and gender equality. Her advocacy included creating avenues like Unsaid Feelings [2], a home for difficult emotions and a place where Filipinos expressed their frustrations, experiences, and emotions.  


Her presence online, and her words, were replete with guidance, wisdom, and kindness. Champions like Dr. Gia built communities around their influence, and created a safe harbor, and many safe spaces, for Filipinos to discuss difficult topics.


Forward, in power

Doc. Gia’s powerful contributions to mental health advocacy will not be forgotten, but she will also never be replaced. This April 10th, in celebration of #MentalHealthPH’s anniversary and for the regular #UsapTayo session, let’s talk about how we can go forward to make Dr. Gia and other champions proud. Tara, #UsapTayo! 


Pre-session question: Review time! What does being a mental health champion mean to you?


  1. Describe what mental  health champions do to further our shared advocacy.
  2. What pressing issues around mental health do you want to champion more?
  3. How can we honor our champions and allies in mental health advocacy? 


Post-session: Repost this graphic and fill in with your name and answer! 

“I ____ am a mental health champion because _____.”

“I____champion mental health advocacy by _____.” 

How do you feel about this?

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January 10, 2024   Writer: CJ Dumaguin, Kevin Miko Buac Researcher:  CJ Dumaguin, Kevin Miko Buac Graphics: Jia Moaral, Krystle