PLDT and Smart beef up joint mental health initiatives nationwide

(Press Release)

Amid difficult times, a person’s mental health has faced the severe impacts of the global pandemic. With the surge in cases and lockdowns in place, more people are finding their own means of coping.

PLDT and Smart, through their Better Today initiative, reinforce their commitment to champion mental health awareness nationwide. Recognizing the vital role that mental health plays in a person’s well-being, Better Today, a collaborative platform for change-making in the digital space, has partnered with local government units (LGUs) and youth groups.

“Through our #BetterToday collaborative platform, we carry out PLDT and Smart’s vision and mission to enable Filipinos with access to the life-enhancing promise of the Internet and digital technology,” PLDT and Smart FVP and Group Corporate Communications Head Cathy Yap-Yang said. “Our [Better Today] Time Capsule Project champions wellness and change-making in the digital space. We believe that digital technology has the power to enhance human connections, not diminish them. This holds true, especially now as we face the world’s longest lockdown in a global pandemic.”

Some of these youth groups include the Sangguniang Kabataan and Youth Affairs and Development Office (YADO) in General Santos (GenSan) City.

According to Sahara Jho Enriquez Cabreros, who serves as the Head of YADO, mental health is just as important as physical health. “As a mother, wife, daughter, student, government worker, the roles that I undertake can be overwhelming and challenging at the same time. [This is why I need] to have stable mental health to process and understand all these things better,” Cabreros said.

Cabreros considers her work in the City Government as an enabling factor to ignite a culture of cooperation and support to the City’s Youth and Development programs and initiatives. While the pandemic has impeded some of its services in terms of executing programs and causes, YADO has still built plans that will empower the youth within their community.

“In YADO, we are promoting YOUTHBUILDGENSAN as one of our pioneering principles. We believe that the youth greatly contributes to building the City of Gensan. In YOUTHBUILDGENSAN, we have three-fold principles. These include Youth Building Oneself; Youth Building Fellow Youth; and Youth Building the Community. With these virtues, we hope to build a culture of empathy by building oneself, others, and community,” Cabreros said.

“I truly believe that the youth is our future, agents of change and bearers of hope. Through relentless pursuit and dedication to equip our young people, we will be able to help them in building a better tomorrow,” Cabreros said.

Meanwhile, John Salvador D. Demdam, who is currently serving as the Panglungsod na Pederasyon ng mga Sangguniang Kabataan President of GenSan and one of the city councilors, considers mental health to be an essential part of his life. “As a young adult, it is important to know how to handle stress, relate to others, and make healthy choices,” Demdam said.

The Sangguniang Kabataan organizes and conducts seminars, training, and online forums that teach participants to share and understand emotions. According to Demdam, the Sangguniang Kabataan organizes programs that ensure the holistic health of the youth–as health is one of the centers of participation stated in the Philippine Youth Development Plan of the National Youth Commission.

In creating a more empathic culture, Demdam shared that is important to meaningfully engage with others. “Empathy is the ability to sense other people’s emotions. It is important, especially during this pandemic when we are in isolation, that we become more empathic to build social connectedness,” Demdam said.

“It is important to be aware of other people’s needs and to be kind to others and ourselves. Through the programs of the Sangguniang Kabataan, we will continue to provide programs to the youth to instill empathy within them,” Demdam added.

The youth community-building efforts of YADO and GenSan’s Sangguniang Kabataan are very much aligned with PLDT and Smart’s Better Today initiative where it inspires passion and purpose, resilience, empathy, and hope.

PLDT and Smart, through their Better Today initiative, reinforce their commitment to the United Nations Sustainability Development Goals (UN SDG), particularly UN SDG #3 on Good Health and Well-Being.