MANILA, PHILIPPINES — Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, many Filipinos, particularly adolescents and young adults, continue to struggle with mental health. This becomes evident with the alarming rise of suicide incidents in General Santos (GenSan) City. To help address this, the City Mayor’s Office, through its Youth Affairs and Development Office (YADO) and the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK), launched Project Hinabi, a youth-led community-based mental health initiative.
‘Hinabi’ is a Cebuano word for conversation and the Tagalog word for woven. Project Hinabi is a series of woven efforts of the community to create safe spaces and conversations.
With PLDT and Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) as project partners, this initiative aims to provide a platform for early detection and intervention for youth struggling with their stress, anxieties, doubts, hopelessness, confusion, and other mental stresses.
The project is also aligned with the city’s Mental Health Program and PLDT and Smart’s Better Today program, which mutually promotes mental wellness, family and child online safety, and youth empowerment and changemaking.
“It’s a privilege to see how our partners in General Santos City, especially its youth sector, become mental health co-champions through Project Hinabi. Better Today envisions a safe space for the Filipino youth to drive conversations on mental health awareness – all with the hopes of creating a more empathic culture, both offline and online, within families and communities,” said Smart Assistant Vice President and Head for Government Relations Jose Lukban Rosete.
Sangguniang Kabataan Federation President and City Councilor John Salvador D. Demdam explained that Project Hinabi facilitates either Remote or Face-to-face Sessions between potential clients and wellness aiders.
“Each pilot barangay will be assigned with a helpline number, which potential clients can contact. For remote sessions, it will be done via phone call that is accessible from 8am to 5pm on Mondays to Saturdays,” he said.
Meanwhile, for face-to-face sessions, Demdam said prior booking is required.
“The sessions are only limited to two sessions in the morning and two sessions in the afternoon from 8am to 5pm on Mondays to Fridays only,” he said.
To drive the campaign, residents in Gensan will receive SMS alerts about mental health using Smart’s Infocast service. InfoCast is a web-based text broadcast solution that can send out advisories to specific groups of people defined by the user and has the facility to receive feedback from mobile users.
PLDT and Smart seek to uplift and improve the overall physical and mental wellness of Filipinos through initiatives that ensure food security, improve nutrition, and create awareness online.
These initiatives emphasize the commitment of PLDT and Smart to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly SDG #3: Good Health and Well-Being.