Filipino culture holds a heavy stigmatization towards mental health — it is either ignored entirely, or minimized and mocked.
“Why, are you mentally ill?” My mom asked, the sarcasm dripping and oozing from her voice. I’d just handed her an article called “Cats Are the Unsung Heroes of Mental Health” to support why I wanted – no, needed to adopt a kitten into our household.
“Yes, mom, I am mentally ill,” I bit back, looking her dead straight in the eyes. She knew that I was on medication for my sexual violence-related PTSD and that I’d been seeing a counsellor for over year to treat it. In the version of Filipino culture that my parents raised me on, we dealt with our suffering with laughter and resilience. Naturally, my mom’s ignorance was unsurprising.
Filipino culture holds a heavy stigmatization towards mental health — it is either ignored entirely, or minimized and mocked. Anxiety? It’s all in your head. You’re making excuses. Depression? Sleep it off. You’ll get over it. While mental illness in the Philippines is legally protected against discrimination under the Magna Carta for Disabled Persons, the law itself further perpetuates the stigma, using “insanity” as a blanket term to encompass all disorders.
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