Safe Spaces and Mental Health Campaigns

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April 20, 2022

Writers: Jasmin Cyrille Tecson, Christopher Jan Dumaguin
Editors: K Ballesteros, AJ Mapoy
Graphics: Jacklyn Moral, Sarah Mondoy, Krystle Mae Labio

Having a safe space is incredibly important for maintaining good mental health. A safe space is a place—physical or virtual—you can go to relax and recharge. It is a judgment-free zone where you can let your guard down and truly be yourself [6].

Different contextual factors and campaigns have to be given ample attention when providing community services for people at risk of mounting mental health outcomes. These aspects are perceived as an interim list that is not certainly complete but encourages further exploration. Further, it is noteworthy that the implementation of such features may vary according to campaigns’ differing target groups, resources, constraints, and goals.

As with your overall health, mental health influences the way that you function from day to day [8]. Online platforms and advocacies address current issues about mental health [7]. With more awareness, and the right mental health care, you will realize that you are not alone [8].

Safe spaces

Safe space generally means “a place or environment in which a person or category of people can feel confident that they will not be exposed to discrimination, criticism, harassment or any other emotional or physical harm[1].” Though this definition can be too complex and broad, it differs depending on the situation and environment in which we move. Your safe space is defined by your emotions and experiences. What feels safe for others might not feel safe for you [4].

  • Safe Spaces for Yourself 

You must give yourself the safe space that you need. That is, to give yourself the chance to be vulnerable and to make mistakes free from the judgments that you have for yourself. Learn to take action by creating a space where you know you will not be bombarded with things that create undue stress, and where you can just relax [6].

Working on yourself can help you feel more comfortable in your skin, and help you feel more emotionally safe wherever you go [6]. Learn to say no without stress, set healthy boundaries, and remember (and revel in) your strengths and successes [6]. These can help build self-esteem and resilience toward stress [6]. Put them to use and you will find yourself feeling more confident and in control when you are facing people and situations that tend to tear you down [6].

  • Safe Spaces in the Community

Finding groups of completely like-minded people is not always easy, but you can bet there is a group of people who share certain interests you have [6].

Exercise groups, particularly classes where the focus is a less competitive activity like yoga, pilates, or even meditation, can be great venues to find others who want peaceful self-improvement [6]. Many of these classes are like small communities in themselves and can be quite supportive, not just for goal achievement and motivation, but emotionally as well [6] 

Just getting together with people who make you feel good can be very replenishing, and a great way to create greater emotional support in your life [6]. You may be the one to introduce them to one another, or they may be a small group of friends you met in a class, at church, or on the job [6].

If you feel that the stress you are experiencing is overwhelming, or if you are dealing with trauma or a serious situation the average person may not understand, therapists and support groups can be wonderfully effective [6]. 

  • Safe Spaces in the Digital World

We define digital safe space in the same way we define physical safe space [9]. It is safe only when we express ourselves online without fear, and without tolerating violence, bullying, or hating speech towards others.

Social media can be stressful in some ways [6]. Seeing everyone else’s carefully curated best moments and comparing them with your reality can be a source of significant stress [6].

But social media can also be a great source of support if you are mindful about who you open yourself up to [6]. Minimize your exposure to those who post things that stress you out, and focus more on fun and supportive content instead [6]. You can also join (or create) groups geared toward your interests [6].

When we define safe spaces, we do not define spaces that are only targeted toward certain individuals. Safe spaces are inclusive and open to all; we define a safe space as a venue where we can dream, imagine, and truly be ourselves – because that is how and where humanity thrives.  Humanity thrives when we see each other as diverse, colorful, and beautiful individuals worthy of what the world can offer [5].

 Mental Health Campaigns

  • Mental Health Campaigns by #MentalHealthPH

 Mental health advocacy has always been the heart and soul of #MentalHealthPH [10]. Since 2016, the organization has increased awareness about people’s struggles with mental ill-health, empowered members to support themselves and others, and collaborated with various sectors towards sustainable solutions [10].

#MentalHealthPH believes that to achieve a mentally healthy community, change must be done at the level of self, society, and system [11]. The organization achieves this by maximizing social media and online digital technology, on-ground activities, and onward collaborations [11].

1. Online Campaigns

 The organization uses online tools like social media networks, live streams, and its own website’s platform to share valuable resources [12]. One of the organization’s online campaigns is #UsapTayo, which seeks to educate and zero the suicide cases and stigma against mental health [12]. Another is #VoicesOfHope wherein the user-submitted stories give faces to and empower the people living with mental ill-health [12].

#40SecondOfHope is a collection of 40-second messages of kindness and hope for those who need it and are going through difficult times [12]. 

Finally, one of the interesting online campaigns of the organization is #MHTalks (Series 2), a four-part live-streamed series on caring for one’s mental health through Self, Society, and Systems actions [12].

2. On-Ground Campaigns

The organization works on-ground by hosting and facilitating workshops, talks, and seminars to provide more personal and palpable support for our communities [12]. In addition to complementing its online initiatives, these allow the organization to remain inclusive by seeing to the needs of people for whom internet connections are not as available [12].

3. Onward Campaigns

#MentalHealthPH aims for an impact that extends onward so members of the organization design their campaigns and seek out partnerships that not only improve the results but help run them sustainably too [12]. Teaming up with like-minded peers and organizations means that this continuously serves the people we care about, long after campaigns have ended [12].

Promoting Safe Spaces and Mental Health Campaigns

Safe spaces and mental health go hand in hand. By having a safe space in our community, we are ensuring a less hostile environment for one another. 

Lots of movements and campaigns regarding mental health and safe spaces have developed over time. In 2019, RA No. 11313, “Bawal Bastos Law” or Safe Spaces Act was enacted to protect Filipinos from physical or online sexual harassment (Abad, 2019). This law recognizes that every man and woman in the country have the right to equality, security, and safety in online platforms and public spaces, including schools, workplace, or even in the streets (Philippine Commission on Women, 2021).

Some non-government organizations also showed support in promoting awareness and building spaces for specific groups. Save the Children Philippines urges all public and private schools to act on the mounting complaints of sexual harassment and other forms of abuse and violence reportedly committed by faculty and school personnel against their students (Save the Children Philippines, 2020). We also have Queer Safe Spaces (QSS), a youth-led nonprofit organization, that aims to educate, empower, and support the Filipino queer people and the LGBT+ community [14].

Campaigns and movements for safe spaces and mental health are everywhere and it can start with you! Join us on Twitter every 10th, 20th, and 30th of the month by using the hashtags #UsapTayo and #MentalHealthPH. #UsapTayo is an online campaign or regular tweetchat that happens every zero of the month (10, 20, 30) because we aim to ZERO the suicide cases and stigma against mental health.

 

 

Pre-Session Activity

  • If I were a Mental Health Campaign,  my slogan would be…

Guide Questions:

  1. What do we consider in defining safe spaces?
  2. What kind of mental health campaign do you want to see in your community?
  3. Why are mental health campaigns important in building a safe space community?

Post-Session Q: 

  • How can we make memorable and impactful mental health campaigns?

 

References:

  1. Safe Space | Definition of Safe Space by Oxford Dictionary on Lexico.com also meaning of Safe Space. (n.d.). Lexico Dictionaries | English. https://www.lexico.com/definition/safe_space
  2. Have mental health awareness campaigns had their day? (n.d.). Www.prweek.com. Retrieved April 14, 2022, from https://www.prweek.com/article/1662436/mental-health-awareness-campaigns-day
  3. Tackling the Term: What is a Safe Space? (2017, January 31). Harvard Political Review. https://harvardpolitics.com/what-is-a-safe-space/
  4. Defining your safe space: What does safe space mean to you? • Dochas Psychological Services Inc. (2021, April 20). Dochas Psychological Services Inc. https://www.dochaspsych.com/blog-defining-your-safe-space-what-does-safe-space-mean/
  5. Beyond Borders – Sustain the Comfort, Narrow the Gap. (2022, April 8). MentalHealthPH. https://mentalhealthph.org/04-10-22/
  6. How to Create a “Safe Space” Anyplace. (n.d.). Verywell Mind. https://www.verywellmind.com/how-and-why-you-should-create-a-safe-space-for-yourself-3144981
  7. Mental Health and Year 2021. (2021, December 9). MentalHealthPH. https://mentalhealthph.org/12-10-2021/
  8. Hospital, P. S. L. (2020, December 28). What Is Mental Health Awareness and Why Does It Matter? – Port St. Lucie. Port St. Lucie Hospital, Inc. | Florida Mental Health Services. https://www.portstluciehospitalinc.com/what-is-mental-health-awareness-and-why-does-it-matter/#:~:text=Raising%20mental%20health%20awareness%20can
  9. Digital safe spaces. (2020, October 31). Safe Space Alliance. https://safespacealliance.com/digital-safe-spaces/
  10. Creating Hope ASIA. (2021, September 6). MentalHealthPH. https://mentalhealthph.org/9-10/
  11. About Us. (n.d.). MentalHealthPH. Retrieved April 14, 2022, from https://mentalhealthph.org/about/
  12. Our Campaigns. (n.d.). MentalHealthPH. Retrieved April 14, 2022, from https://mentalhealthph.org/campaigns/
  13. Philippine Commission on Women. (n.d.). Republic Act 11313: Safe Spaces Act | Philippine Commission on Women. Pcw.gov.ph. https://pcw.gov.ph/republic-act-11313/
  14. Creating safe spaces for LGBT youth. (n.d.). Manila Bulletin. https://mb.com.ph/2021/11/14/creating-safe-spaces-for-lgbt-youth/
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