Independence and Mental Health: Embracing Freedom from Stigma

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Writer: Jossa Corpuz
Graphics: Krystle Mae Labio, Ian Stephen Velez, Jia Moral 
Moderator: Richardson Mojica

 

Independence Day celebrates freedom and the values that define a nation’s identity. While it recalls the historical struggle for freedom, it also serves as a powerful reminder of individuals’ ongoing battles in achieving personal freedom, particularly in mental health. This article explores the significance of Independence Day in promoting mental health awareness and the importance of freeing ourselves from the stigma associated with mental illness.

In 1935, the Commonwealth of the Philippines was established with U.S. approval, and Manuel Quezon was elected the country’s first president. On July 4, 1946, full independence was granted to the Republic of the Philippines by the United States. (Amanda O., Missy S., Matt M., and Christian Z. 2020). Independence Day marks the victory of a collective fight for freedom and self-determination. This historical context can be paralleled with the individual struggle for mental well-being. Just as nations have fought for sovereignty, individuals battle for control over their mental health, striving to overcome internal and external challenges. Recognizing this connection highlights the broader concept of freedom, encompassing both societal independence and personal mental relief.

Despite progress in mental health awareness, stigma remains a serious barrier. This Independence Day, it’s crucial to reflect on how far we’ve come and how much further we need to go in breaking the chains of stigma. The social stigma and discrimination they experience can make their problems worse, making it harder to recover. It may cause the person to avoid getting the help they need because of the fear of being stigmatized (Stigma, 2015). By fostering a culture of acceptance and understanding, we can create an environment where mental health is treated with the same urgency and compassion as physical health.

Being part of a community fosters a sense of belonging that contributes to a strong sense of self-worth Knowing that others care about your well-being can instill a sense of purpose and validation, which are crucial for building and maintaining good mental health (Joshie, n.d..) This Independence Day, let’s acknowledge the vital role of family, friends, and mental health professionals in supporting those in need. Communities can provide a safe space for open discussions about mental health, encouraging individuals to seek help without fear of judgment.

A nation’s strength lies not only in its economic and political power but also in the well-being of its citizens. Mental health is a crucial component of national identity and overall societal health. By prioritizing mental health, we contribute to a healthier, more resilient population The World Health Organization (WHO) conceptualizes mental health as a “state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and can make a contribution to his or her community” (WHO, 2020). This Independence Day, let’s advocate for policies and programs that support mental health care, ensuring that mental wellness is accessible to all.

Independence Day is also an opportunity to share and celebrate personal stories of overcoming mental health challenges. These stories of recovery inspire others to seek help and understand the importance of mental health awareness. By boosting these voices, we can break down the barriers of stigma and promote a more inclusive and supportive society.

As we celebrate Independence Day, let’s expand our understanding of freedom to include mental health. True independence is not just the absence of external abuse but also the presence of internal well-being. By addressing mental health stigma and promoting a culture of acceptance and support, we honor the spirit of Independence Day and contribute to a society where everyone has the freedom to develop.

 

Session Questions:

  1. In your own words, what is stigma?
  2. How can you help the community to reduce the stigma on mental health?
  3. What role do family and friends play in supporting individuals with mental health challenges, and how can they contribute to breaking the stigma associated with mental illness?

 

 

References:

Stigma, Discrimination, and Mental Illness. Better Health Channel. https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/servicesandsupport/stigma-discrimination-and-mental-illness

Philippine Independence Declared. History.com, 2020 https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/philippine-independence-declared

 

Joshi, M. The vital role of community support in mental health: exploring the importance of connectedness for mental well-being. Power Mind Matters. https://mpowerminds.com/blog/the-role-of-community-support-in-mental-health

Mental Health. World Health Organization, Pan American Health Organization, 2020. https://www.paho.org/en/topics/mental-health#:~:text=The%20World%20Health%20Organization%20(WHO,to%20his%20or%20her%20community%E2%80%9D.

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