Kylie Versoza, TJ Manotoc spend Valentine’s Day as mental health ‘human books’

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 14 2018 04:35 PM

MANILA - Students and teachers were able to “borrow” a senator, a broadcaster, a beauty queen and other personalities who served as “human books” who told their personal mental health stories on Valentine’s Day.

The “Read My Mind” project held at the Lyceum of the Philippines University allowed students and faculty members to "borrow" Senator Risa Hontiveros, Kapamilya broadcaster TJ Manotoc, Miss International 2016 Kylie Versoza, and 19 other individuals for 7 minutes each to converse with them about mental health.

“This is about giving back by trying to share my story and hopefully, ‘yung kuwento ko kapag nakita nila, maka-relate sila, makita nilang kaya ko pala kaya kaya din nila,” Manotoc told ABS-CBN News.

Manotoc is one of the most recent celebrities to open up about his bout with depression. Last month, he released a tell-all video that showed how he struggled and conquered his mental issues.

Versoza, who is also an advocate of mental health, said she gave up part of her Valentine’s Day to help others who may have gone through the same ordeal she had when she was younger.

In 2016, Versoza admitted that she suffered from depression. She had to see a psychiatrist and overhaul her lifestyle to conquer the illness.

“I went through a struggle, I was lost. I didn’t know what to do. But eventually, with the right help and the right support, I was able to go through it,” she said.

Other “human books” from the “human library” include psychiatrists, artists, and student leaders who all told stories about mental illnesses and their experiences.

“Mas madali matuto from ‘human books’ kasi makakapagtanong ka, mas makakapag-open ka, and may makukuha ka agad na sagot na related sa problem mo. Unlike sa normal books, iisipin mo pa paano mo ia-apply ‘yung nasa libro sa situation mo,” said Sam Dena, an 18-year old depression survivor who attended the event.

The event was organized by Hontiveros as part of her awareness campaign on the Mental Health bill.

“It's our way of bringing the message of the mental health bill closer to students and young people in general... na importante ‘yung pagkakaroon ng anti-stigma and anti-discrimination programs on campus para ‘yung mga estudyante natin who are struggling in silence, struggling in the dark, ay mas ma-empower na sabihin that they need help,” Hontiveros, who championed the Mental Health Bill in the Senate, told ABS-CBN News.

Last year, the Senate ratified the Mental Health Bill, but the House of Representatives has yet to pass a counterpart measure.

Under the law, government hospitals will be required to provide “psychiatric, neurosocial and neurologic services.” Guidance counselors will also be trained to diagnose and address depression and other mental illnesses among students.

As of 2017, about 3.3 million Filipinos are suffering from depression, data from the World Health Organization and the Department of Health showed.