Every October is National Mental Health Awareness Month and this year, the Natasha Goulbourn Foundation (NGF), a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing depression to light, and its partner Globe, invited us to the awarding ceremonies for their video competition, launched in June 2016 to help spread awareness about depression by encouraging those who experience depression, as well as their loved ones, to seek guidance from HOPELINE, NGF’s free 24/7 suicide hotline numbers: 804-HOPE (4673), 0917-558HOPE (4673), and 2919 (toll-free for TM and Globe subscribers).
Globe and NGF with the winners
Globe has been a long-time partner of NGF — providing the information and communications technology infrastructure for HOPELINE. “Through the video, we hope that we can also prevent young people from taking their lives due to cyberbullying, which causes a lot of pressure and stress,” said Fernando Esguerra, Globe Director for Citizenship.
I grew up in a time when there were labels for people with physical and mental disabilities which are considered totally inappropriate, insensitive and discriminatory today. In my own family, we had our share of relatives who had some form of disability. My Mom’s younger brother had developmental delays and, without faulting her for it, because it was acceptable back then, she would refer to my uncle using the R word – retarded. There were other labels that I heard in those growing-up days – Mongoloid, albino, Negro, and other terms that are considered taboo these days.
It must have been hard for my lola to have a mentally challenged child. People who did not develop mentally at the same rate as most people were bound to be ignored, teased and bullied, even ostracized. My lola opted to keep my uncle with her and she took him everywhere! But other than being her companion, he had no contribution to society. My uncle was high functioning. He stammered but could communicate and be understood. Thinking about it now, he would be quite an asset. But there were no support groups that could have given her comfort or taught her how to make my uncle a useful citizen in society.
He was a soldier, a sinner, and a saint — all rolled into one. He is St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits (or Society of Jesus). His feastday will be celebrated in a few weeks, on July 31. And a movie is coming out very soon on his life.