It doesn’t take a guidebook to tell you that the Philippines is working hard to play catch-up where there have been lapses in awareness towards mental health. But professional geographer and GIS specialist working for DSWD, Andi Tabinas, decided to use her skills to paint a picture of where we are in the landscape of mental health, by mapping out the available facilities available in the Philippines.
“I myself had an experience dealing with mental health, and it took me a long time to reach out for help,” Andi shares. “I thought maybe [seeking help] would be expensive, or too time-consuming, or even just too far from me. And if there are other people dealing with this, I wouldn’t want them to have to ask other people for the facilities that were available.”
The project began in 2017. Fortunately, the data is out there—gleaned from the resources gathered by grassroots campaigns such as #MentalHealthPH, and even a Reddit wiki thread, avenues that utilize crowdsourcing to compile lists of services (both paid and free) in the country. This interactive map provides information that should be directly, readily available. More importantly, information that should be easy to read. As easily read as a map.
The function of mapmaking here also loans us some insights towards our developments in mental health. “What I learned is that most of our facilities are concentrated in Metro Manila,” Andi says. “There are very few facilities listed in rural areas.”
Currently, there are 118 facilities listed and 69 of them are in the Metro Manila area, more than half of the total number.
The map has earned Tabinas the gratitude of many users, but she hopes that this will spur even more people to contribute information. The message is clear enough: Help isn't too far away. "Don't be afraid to ask for help," her message reads on the map page. "There's always someone ready to help near you."