Filipino volunteers initiate creative arts activities to combat depression

World Mental Health Day is held every 10th of October with the overall objective of raising awareness of mental health issues around the world and mobilizing efforts in support of mental health. In celebration of World Mental Health Day, a group of Filipino volunteers organized free basic photography and painting sessions on October 5 and 12 in collaboration with the private sector.

Counseling psychology expert and psychology professor (at the Canadian University of Dubai) Dr. Rommel Sergio stated that global studies have portrayed the creative arts as a valuable tool in combatting depression experienced by young and older adults – the situation of which has become an increasing global issue (with 7% to 27% of global populations experiencing the symptoms).

“Therefore, it is imperative that the effectiveness of approaches to the prevention and treatment of depression are understood. Creative arts interventions, including photography, art, dance movement, drama, and music modalities, are utilized internationally to target depression and depressive symptoms in young and older adults,” he added.

Filipino volunteers initiate creative arts activities to combat depression

The volunteers, led by Art Los Banos, first partnered with Nikon Middle East whose Digital Media and Training Manager, Cesar ‘Rocky’ Parroco, conducted the basic photography workshop at their JAFZA View office in Jebel Ali.

“It makes you always aware of the present moment and appreciate the beauty of life that surrounds you, despite how ordinary and simple,” Cesar explained on the benefits of photography as an art form.

The painting activity was held at the POWER Technical Training Center and was facilitated by Susan Puno Villanueva, an educator and highly revered artist herself.

“Sometimes it is worth it to listen to your inner subconscious mind. This is where you see your inner self.  There’s an artist in you that you never discovered.  Now you know it and by using the basic techniques, you can develop it. The importance of proper learning leads to great results. I am happy that each of you has stories to share and the artist in you woke up.” She shares.

Filipino volunteers initiate creative arts activities to combat depression

On the photography session, Grace Bulalacao, one of the participants, said: “I used to take pictures randomly. Now I know the importance of ISO, aperture and shutter speed. You made me realized that engaging in photography is one productive way to spend free time which can reduce stress level and combat depression.”

Participants at the painting session also expressed their gratitude. Out of the group, there were three married couples, to which mentor Susan Villanueva expressed that creative arts were a great stress reliever and couple’s activity. “We really enjoyed the basic painting workshop” Jhane Sicat says, one of the many attendees of the class.

Dr. Sergio and his group, the Psychological Society of the Philippines-UAE, have been giving free mental health and depression talks before various Filipinos, Filipino schools and the CFC community.