In the Philippines, it is estimated that 12.5% of adolescents aged 10 to 19 years and 5.9% of children aged 5 to 9 years are reported to have a mental disorder, as per the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. Virlanie Foundation is deeply concerned about this matter. To commemorate World Mental Health Month, our health service organized visits and activities not only at our residential homes but also at our office to raise awareness and provide support.
“At Virlanie Foundation, Inc., we organized a variety of activities in observance of World Mental Health Day, which is celebrated every year on October 10th,” explained Ate Valerie, the Coordinator of Health Services. “Self-care activities for stress reduction are scheduled and organized based on the age and needs of our beneficiaries across the different residential homes.“
For one week, the beneficiaries of our homes have had the opportunity to benefit from a wide range of activities, with including yoga sessions, art therapy, and dance classes. These activities help them learn to express their emotions and alleviate the stress they may experience. This year, a new addition is the inclusion of the Virlanie staff, who also had the chance to participate in a special half-day event and a personal session about stress management.
On this day, Masaya, Babies and Toddlers and Aime home, were given special attention to help them express their feelings and alleviate stress. At Babies and Toddlers House (BTH), the kids were encouraged to express their emotions and taught basic emotion using emojis and practice focusing and paying attention. Ate Valerie emphasized, ‘We’ve found that they struggle to express their emotions, so we aim to help them recognize when they’re feeling sad or happy.‘”
At Aime, they chose to engage in sports with a Zumba activity tailored for children with special needs, offering them a chance to let loose. These two activities were generously sponsored by LSEG – London Stock Exchange Group, a long-standing partner of Virlanie. This marked their first participation in such a themed event. Several volunteers from LSEG generously dedicated their time to our beneficiaries.
This experience left a significant impact on the volunteers at LSEG. One of them mentioned, ‘This is our first time visiting a residential home, and we are thrilled to share this moment and engage in the same activities as the children. It helps us gain a deeper understanding of the unique needs of these children.’“
In the afternoon, Masaya home enjoyed a yoga session led by Kuya Hugo, our French grant volunteer.
On this day, the staff were invited to participate in an office stress survey. Several games were organized to foster stronger connections among the staff. This marked the first year that Virlanie organized such an activity, as their usual focus has been on the beneficiaries. The result: all the staff present enthusiastically took part in all the activities and completed the survey. As a reward, they received chocolates and positive affirmation cards tokens corresponding to their stress levels.
The last activity took place at Elizabeth Home, involving girls aged 13 to 20, on the most recent Sunday morning. Throughout the morning, the girls participated in an art therapy session focused on addressing their problems and finding solutions. Although the girls started with somewhat hesitant ideas, they gradually became actively engaged in the activity, allowing their creativity to flow. By the end, some of them were able to open up, share their thoughts, and find relief from their pain.
“It was a wonderful activity; I truly appreciate participating in this kind of event. It has been very helpful, especially in making me realize that I’m not alone and that it’s okay to cry sometimes. I feel a sense of release,” explained a beneficiary from Elizabeth Homes.
Jade Home has taken commendable steps to foster well-being among children with special needs. Through engaging and enjoyable activities like “stop dance,” “sorting game”, “cup stacking game, and the “scavenger hunt”. Jade Home is nurturing both the physical and mental health of its beneficiaries. These activities not only stimulate cognitive function but also encourage social interaction and teamwork. By incorporating such games into their daily routines, Jade Home exemplifies the importance of making mental health awareness a fun and integral part of life.
Addressing children’s mental health in the Philippines requires a multi-faceted approach, compounded by the stress due to poverty and the recent COVID-19 pandemic. At Virlanie Foundation, Inc., our role is to restore their smiles, which involves having a healthy mindset and mental well-being.