“At this time, no new laws are being lobbied in mental health; we’re primarily focusing on ensuring the Mental Health Act is executed properly and that there is proper implementation at the local-level. Like many laws enacted in the Philippines, without continuous monitoring and oversight, the national laws will fail to trickle down to the grassroots level, so that’s where the work of our organizations come in.”
“I struggled with my mental health as a child a lot. It was in regards to my own body. I always felt fat, and believed no one would like me or date me because of it. It was only in my 20s that I let that belief go, and then I discovered anxiety about other issues. But the main struggles in my life were always about my sense of unlovability. I just didn’t feel worthy of connection or love and if I don’t keep on top of that, it comes up in my life today.”
“There’s no reason why the conversations around motherhood shouldn’t speak to the totality of who a woman is. We have to stop telling women that when they become mothers they must become martyrs. No one EVER asks a man how he is going to have a family and hold down a job. No one ever tells a man that he must give up the parts of himself that make him human, that give him life. But we always tell women that she can’t both work and raise kids or that she must give up her dreams, whatever they may be. It’s time we stop that.”
What inspired you to use your platform to become an advocate for mental health?
Ali: When I started struggling, I didn’t find anyone online that I could look to. As a teenager, you live your life on social media and that can lead youth to believe everyone is perfect. If I couldn’t find anyone, why shouldn’t I be the one?
“The most crucial part is finding the right psychiatrist. There are not enough good psychiatrists in the mental health field, and that is just the truth. Find someone who sees you as an individual and will listen to your wants and needs. Many psychiatrists would put me on meds that sedated me to the extent that I could not work. I started voicing my concerns around that and did not give up my search.”
“Therapy has given me consistent time and space to be honestly and authentically myself. As an empath, one of my strengths is being able to read a room and adjust my demeanor and offerings to best serve the people around me. From a professional perspective, I am proud of this skill and it brings me a lot of joy and growth opportunities. From a personal perspective, this tendency can blur the lines of what I am doing because I want to or because it nurtures me, and what I am doing because I am caring for someone else, or because I think I should be. Therapy has helped me identify this tendency in itself and has given me the perspective and tools to recognize my own wants and needs and communicate those to others, setting boundaries when necessary to ensure those needs are met. This is incredibly powerful both at work and at home.”
“I grew up in a household where discussing mental health wasn’t really a thing. As a child in my household it always seemed like the more you held in, the stronger you looked in the eyes of everyone else. Talking about mental health is still something that isn’t easily done in my family. There are a lot of stereotypes surrounding seeking therapy/counseling, some that may have turned my family off completely from seeking mental health. Some like you have to have money to afford talking to a therapist, mental health is only for crazy people, and mental health only being a thing for white people. I also believe that my family as well as many people don’t really understand what practicing positive mental health looks like. Positive mental health can be as simple as reciting positive affirmations everyday, learning to say no when you don’t agree, drawing boundaries with family, friends and associates. Taking up that favorite hobby that makes you feel good, practicing positive self esteem, working out, practicing healthier eating habits, talking about your feelings and also checking yourself when you do negative things as a human or things that may hurt others. I believe my family has to discover these truths on their own.”