Iba ‘Yan: Angel Locsin extends support and care to people battling mental illness

Angel Locsin travelled to Baguio City for the February 21 episode of Iba ‘Yan to tackle and address the rising stigma of mental health issues and offer support and care to people facing such problems.

Since the pandemic started, health organizations have tracked the unsettling rise of mental health-related concerns and disorders all over the world. Experts believe that the rate of suicide cases in the country has continued to rise. And one of the cities to record a very disturbing number every year is Baguio City.

According to Dr. Zoraida Clavio, the mental health coordinator of the city, they have recorded 28 cases of suicide last 2019 that involved 26 males and 2 females at ages 20 to 24. Thus, the local government is eyeing to implement a mental health care and developmental wellness program through the ordinance authored by Councilors Levy Lloyd Orcales and Joel Alangsab that offers a comprehensive approach in dealing with the mental health issues of their constituents through a 24/7 hotline, psychological first aid, and the cooperation of various sectors.

And among their partner organizations is the Anxiety and Depression Support Group - Baguio City founded in 2019 that gives people, especially the youth, access to professional help for their mental health. It was established by Ricky Ducas who was diagnosed with Panic Anxiety Disorder and is now a volunteer helpline responder.

A registered nurse, he used to work in Taiwan as an ICU (Intensive Care Unit) nurse and eventually transferred to China and worked as a clinic nurse and nurse educator. Due to the nature of his work, he began to show symptoms and physical manifestations of Panic Anxiety Disorder that made him decide to go back to the Philippines and have himself checked. He was initially scared because of the stigma that comes with his situation, and questioned God why He allowed him to go through it.

His advocacy on helping young people with their mental health dilemma began when a student of an elementary school that invited him to have a talk on personality development approached him and handed him a suicidal note. This inspired him to create the support group that allows student to seek help from professionals by connecting them online. It already has 3,000 members at present and aims to quell suicide cases completely, as well as to eliminate the stigma.

Ricky may be blessed to have a family who unconditionally supported him all throughout, but he admitted having difficulty when it comes to funding his medications and psychotherapy. Thus, he de-stresses himself by watching videos of his ultimate idol, It’s Showtime host Vice Ganda, on social media. He also added how much he admires the Iba ‘Yan presenter, who revealed also being diagnosed with depression and anxiety, as he sees her as the epitome of a strong woman. Apart from reminding him that he’s not alone, she also surprised him by showing him a personal message from the Unkabogable Star.

The Iba ‘Yan team also met one of the members of Ricky’s support group, Janice Himmoldang. She began to experience anxiety and uncontrollable panic attacks when her mom suffered from heart attack in 2019 and was eventually diagnosed with Panic Anxiety Disorder. Aside from having to endure the side effects of not taking her medications, she also got diagnosed with breast cancer in 2011 and had to undergo operation and chemotherapy. In the following years, she had to go through surgery again for her ovarian cyst and intestinal adhesions.

Despite all these struggles that she had to face, Janice remained grateful to God being able to survive all of those. However, there’s still someone that pains her heart – her 13-year old daughter who has a speaking disability. Thus, Iba ‘Yan provided her assistance by granting her free medical consultations and an online skin care products business.

Angel then met Nathan Santos, an events host and magician who grew up in Bulacan and transferred to Baguio for college. In 2016, he sought professional help after noticing a huge change in his social behavior and was diagnosed with clinical depression. But when he was already taking medicines for his depression, he suddenly turned hyperactive – which led to his being diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

When his mother died, he forced himself not to go through the grief and pain by simply accepting that he’s just alone in life. Not having someone to talk to, he turned to social media to express his emotions and thoughts. But instead of support, people told him that he just wanted attention, which totally hurt him and made him feel that his feelings were invalid. That was until he participated in a study conducted by a university that led him to meet his psychotherapist, who really helped him a lot.

Since Nathan couldn’t perform in front of a live audience yet, Iba ‘Yan offered him the opportunity to stage his magic show through its digital platforms. The program also provided him with the digital receiver and transmitter set that he needed, as well as groceries and food for his pet rabbit and parrot.

The episode wrapped up with Angel gathering Ricky, Janice, and Nathan for a bonfire activity called “Leaving One’s Life’s Baggage” with general psychiatrist Dr. Rosalinda Caoile. They were tasked to write the things they consider their baggage on a piece of paper, to which they all felt panic, fear, uncertainty, and relief. After processing all their feelings and the things that would help them overcome all their pain and sufferings, Angel told them more good news.

Iba ‘Yan gave Ricky a portable speaker with a mic and projector, as well as pledged to help his organization in selling their advocacy shirts through promoting it on their social media accounts and purchasing Php 20,000-worth of their “Choose Life” shirts.

The host also announced that they’ll be tying up with the Philippine Mental Health Association Inc., for a Psychosocial Support Training Webinar that was launched on the social media pages of Iba ‘Yan last February 17.

Catch her on Iba ‘Yan, Sundays at 6:30pm on Kapamilya Channel and Kapamilya Online Live! It’s also available on A2Z and iWantTFC.