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Mind You app puts mental health care within reach for Filipinos

By Karmeena Eslava Published Nov 03, 2023 8:59 pm

With the growing number of Filipinos with mental health concerns, the lack of accessibility and cost gaps hinder many people from getting the appropriate care and support they need. 

In its third year of conducting the National Mental Health Summit, mental health service provider Mind You delved into critical subjects, highlighting the need for a support system, negating stereotypes related to mental health, urging people to be visible, and providing helpful strategies for managing stress and anxiety.  

This year's National Mental Health Summit, held at the BGC Amphitheater last Oct. 22, promotes breaking the stigma around the subject and encourages other tools to make mental health more “accessible and affordable” for Filipinos.  

The group aims to help Filipinos get the best care for stress, anxiety, and depression by 2025 through a combination of “heartfelt education, cutting-edge technology, and world-class counseling” and by focusing on preventing rather than treating mental health issues.  

Mind You senior psychologist Rea Celine Villa said that the gap between the people who need psychological assistance and those who can offer it is so wide that there is only one psychologist for every 125,000 Filipinos and only around 400 in the National Capital Region. She said that seeking professional help is like “looking for Pokémons.”

CEO of Mind You and suicide survivor Yuri Marshall ascertained the struggle after experiencing it first-hand in the country, coming from Australia when it would take him at least six weeks to get a schedule with a psychologist. 

Meanwhile, using our closest circles as outlets for dealing with stresses and issues is not uncommon, as noted by Mind You vice president Miguel Valdez. He said this is normal for most people because it lets them know they have people to share their burdens with. However, this can be taxing on the other person, which is also why they built the organization.

“We decided that if the Filipinos are known for their hospitality and kindness, [then they] can be that beacon of kindness for their neighbor,” he said. 

Marshall said that the digital application is a “technology designed for care, privacy [and] safety” for anonymous individuals to have a platform to vent out and still have a sense of community in the platform.

“What we’ve developed is a safe space online where you can vent… [somewhere] you can just vent,” Marshall shared. 

Virtual therapy

The Mind You app provides innovative options like mood tracking, journaling, and self-help materials such as podcasts and articles in addition to conventional talk therapy, which gives the ability to act proactively to safeguard one's mental health before it deteriorates to the point where assistance is required.   

In addition, Mind You makes an effort to fight the stigma against mental illness. They equip communities with the knowledge and skills to create an environment where open discussions about mental health are encouraged and accepted. Clients may feel confident asking for help because of the platform's guarantee of anonymity throughout consultations.  

Marshall said the organization has committed to addressing the cost issue to ease the financial barrier to accessing mental health care. When they soft launched talk therapy last year, a session cost P1,680. This initiative is crucial since a sizable portion of their clientele in Metro Manila earn at or below the minimum wage. However, this had to be raised to P1,800 for each therapy session to look after the psychologists.  

“We don’t want to underpay our psychologists,” he said.  

They also extend their efforts to the business community, providing businesses with an all-inclusive setting at the cheap rate of P60 per person. This is made possible by automated solutions that streamline administrative processes. Additionally, they have created mechanisms to make it easier and cheaper for high-risk individuals to receive pharmacological consultations. 

Marshall said that being part of a community that seeks to break the stigma around mental health means starting with oneself to develop new patterns of behaviors that can serve as an example to other people.

“If we do that as individuals, then the community strength starts to grow, and we start to actually look out for each other rather than judge and discriminate each other,” he said. 

Mind You is free and available on Android and iOS, where users will need to provide general personal information before they can access the community forum.