Moving Forward with Mental Health Advocacy: Keep Going! Baguio

Keep Going Baguio paves way for mental health awareness, campaigns and education to ripple through  not just in the city but towards a more inclusive and compassionate nation.

The pandemic became the catalyst to the birth of various organizations, programs and initiatives specifically those that cater to the most vulnerable and marginalized sectors. Different advocacy groups have led their activities in response to the growing needs and concerns faced by these populations. One remarkable organization proved that through collaborative efforts, anything can be achieved. Through their hands-on and extensive line up of events, they are trailblazing the current efforts towards mental health literacy even further and now continuously making waves as one of the promising groups in the MH advocacy – Keep Going Baguio.

Keep Going Baguio is a non-stock, non-profit organization dedicated to mental health awareness and employment of people with mental disorders/mental health issues (or what they also call Mental Health Warriors) and offers free alternative (non-clinical) mental health services as their concerns were magnified by the COVID-19 pandemic. The organization aims to help these qualified workers to get a job tailor fit to them and be connected to employers that will provide a caring and supportive working environment where they can thrive with their own skill set and competencies. Now registered under the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in the Philippines under the name Baguio Mental Health Warriors, Inc., Keep Going Baguio was formally established on July 22, 2020. It is composed of diverse mental health advocates and mental health professionals, including carers, patients, psychologists, psychiatrists, etc. from various backgrounds and primarily utilize their multidisciplinary experiences in order to effectively spearhead programs, campaigns and activities, as well as to holistically empower the “mental health warriors” of Baguio City.

Its vision is to see a Baguio (including CAR and nearby provinces) that actively supports people on their journey to positive mental health so they may thrive, contribute to the society and live a life that they value. On the other hand, its mission is to promote the rights and best interests of people living with mental illnesses through mental health campaigns, programs and services that are timely, appropriate and accessible. Keep Going Baguio is also guided by the following core values:

  1. Mental health is fundamental to achieving a healthy, productive and meaningful life.
  2. With proper treatment and support, people with mental illnesses can recover and lead full lives.
  3. All people regardless of gender, age, ethnicity, economic status, religious belief, or sexual orientation, should have access to high quality, community-based, culturally- sensitive and integrated mental health services.
  4. Acquiring and retaining meaningful work in a supportive and compassionate environment can aid in one’s recovery.
  5. We must be actively engaged in influencing policy decisions relating to mental health issues at the local and national levels.
  6. Community understanding of mental illness and broad-based citizen participation must be promoted to eradicate stigma.
  7. They fulfill their objectives most effectively when they collaborate with others.

The team is led by Loffy Bermejo, Leslie Dulfo and Aki Reyes which serve as the organization’s co-founders and convenors. Other members of the organization are comprised of mental health advocates, mental health warriors with lived experiences, mental health professionals, passionate volunteers and advocacy champions who continue to uphold the thrust to fight for the cause of mental health.

PROGRAMS AND SERVICES

Keep Going Baguio offers programs, activities and initiatives that reflect the passion to uplift the quality of life of mental health warriors and continue to advocate for mental health.

  • Information – In order to raise awareness on mental health, the organization conducts webinars, trainings and workshops for the general public, volunteers and advocates. These webinars are on a variety of mental health topics and some of its previous projects include “Life in Lockdown: Safeguarding Mental Health during the ECQ”, “Reaching Out: A Mental Health Awareness Project for Private Schools”, and “Mental Health Advocacy 101.”
  • Connection – KGB facilitates virtual meet ups (VMU’s) which serve as safe space for people to freely ventilate their psychosocial and mental health concerns during these unprecedented, difficult times. It is equivalent to a support group, but not a substitute to professional help. This also enables participants to learn from each other’s sharings and experiences.
  • Inspiration – Get a fresh dose of inspiration and motivation from KGB’s podcast on a variety of mental health topics with different guests each week, as well as get involved with special projects such as Kampana, Notes of Hope, an open mic series and various fundraising activities.
  • Collaboration – Keep Going Baguio is open to partnerships with different organizations and institutions to work on their mental health projects.  

MENTAL HEALTH WARRIORS/KEEP GOING MENTAL HEALTH CHECK-IN

Seeing the need for more accessible mental health services especially for those people who have no sufficient financial capacity to shoulder expenses, it is becoming extremely challenging ffor mental health warriors to get checked by a psychiatrist/psychologist, leading to adverse effects on their psychosocial wellbeing when left untreated.

That’s why Keep Going Baguio, in partnership with IVolunteer Philippines, is tying up for a special project that will aid mental health warriors in this dilemma by leading a fundraising drive and that will give hope to Baguio residents and nearby provinces who need help during these trying times. As mental health warriors find it dificult to reach out to hospitals for consultations/medications, this initaitive will spark hope and bridge them to mental health services amidst financial incapacity, and will help them monitor their psychosocial wellbeing for any concerns and issues.

 Specifications for the fundraising drive will include consultations with a mental health professional (psychologist/psychiatrist) and medicine allowance per month. A determinded number of beneficiaries will be considered and all of the proceeds that will be collected from the project will be dedicated to shouldering the cost of the consultations and medicine allowance. Every amount collected will be a valuable help to mental health warriors in leading them towards a more accessible and quality mental health services in time of pandemic. For those interested in the fundraising drive, you donate via our website here: [https://www.ivolunteer.com.ph/treasure-volunteer/6600]. Alternatively, you may reach out to the following:

Contact Person: Leslie T. Dulfo (0977 359 6985)
Bank Account: Baguio Mental Health Warriors, Inc.
Account Number: 238 – 323 -839- 226- 9 Metrobank

Just like how Keep Going Baguio advocates for the cause of mental health, your passion to help will go an extra mile. There is no good deed wasted, (no matter how big or small it is) especially during these times of crisis where we badly need to hold each other’s hand. As what the organization firmly believes in, let us continue to become beacons of hope for our fellow human beings in order for us to live harmoniously and be productive citizens during this tumultuous period of our generation. Altogether, let’s work on the power of collaboration.

Keep Going Baguio is also available on their social media sites and contact information:

Website: https://keepgoingbaguio.com/
Facebook: fb.com/KeepGoingBaguio

Address/Location:
2nd Floor Gamaphel Building
F. Calderon St. corner T. Claudio St.
Middle Session Road
Baguio City, Philippines

Email: info@keepgoingbaguio.com
Contact Number: +63 917 971 9023

References: https://keepgoingbaguio.com/   

To know more about Ivolunteer Philippines and Treasure Volunteer, you can visit www.ivolunteer.com.ph and sign up for your planned volunteer opportunities. You can also support #TreasureVolunteer campaigns that are continuously growing this time of pandemic.

By: Victor Adrian M. Sari (Content Producer, Ivolunteer Philippines)

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