October 10 is World Mental Health Day. With the passage of the Philippine Mental Health Law, this year marks a very meaningful celebration. Ateneo Law made sure that the celebration is felt in ALS, too. The Ateneo Law Student Council held the entire month of October as mental health month and launched a series of activities. These activities highlighted not only awareness but also self-care and coping mechanisms.
The celebration kicked-off during midterms week when the ALS student council brought therapy dogs inside the school. Three symposiums focusing on different aspects of mental health were likewise set for the entire month. The first talk focused on positive psychology, the second on promoting self-care and well-being, and the last is a forum on Mental Health Law. These symposiums were scheduled on Oct. 12, 18, and 26 respectively. Aside from these symposiums, the students also get the change to have free hugs and inspirational quotes, and experience the stimulation of all senses in a sense room.
“Our aim is not just to raise awareness but also advocate the concept of self-care. Law school has a very challenging environment and oftentimes students forget to take care of themselves. We hope with the activities we prepared for mental health month, law students will learn different coping mechanisms that could help them in braving daily grind.”—Yen Rase, Internal Vice President of the ALS Student Council.
As for the long-term plans, Rase shared that ALS Student Council has lobbied with the administration regarding mental health policy that will be implemented in law school. Right now, the administration manifested that guidance counseling will be available soon. This will be under the supervision of Atty. IJ Chan-Gonzaga, S.J.
Being men and women for others actually start in law school. In fact, Kester Biao, Project Head of Mental Health month, recognized that, “we all walk the halls of the school carrying something heavy on our shoulders. Some loads are lighter and easier to carry, others on the other hand, are much heavier and can be too heavy to carry on certain days. And that’s okay. Because even though we can’t make the weight of this world disappear, we can, at the very least, help one another carry and live through this load one day at a time.”
On the other hand, law students like Andrea De Vera share the same hopes for Ateneo Law School. She shared that, “The Mental Health Month in ALS is a great step for law students to recognize that mental health is just as important as any other aspect of our lives…[a]lthough Ateneans value magis and taking the daily grind as seriously as possible, more often than not, we forget to take care of our mental health, since a certain stigma attaches if it is in any way other than “normal.” I hope that the Mental Health Month will only pave the way for more actions and even policies in the ALS community to acknowledge the importance of mental health.”
The issue of mental health is not a novel one. Its recent heightened recognition could be traced to the constant lobbying of the civil society. Fortunately, the state has listened and enacted the Philippine Mental Health law. Now, it’s time for Ateneo Law School to do its part. As a place where law students are molded to be the person they want to become, it is then just right to make it a home—a place where dreams are first built and later on realized. #