Many Filipinos, particularly teens and young people, continue to battle with mental health in the midst of the COVID-19 epidemic. This is evidenced by the alarming increase in suicides in General Santos (GenSan) City. To address this, the City Mayor’s Office created Project Hinabi, a youth-led community-based mental health project, in collaboration with the Youth Affairs and Development Office (YADO) and the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK).

Sangguniang Kabataan of General Santos City President John Demdam shares more details on the community-based mental health initiative Project Hinabi. 

‘Hinabi’ is a Cebuano word for conversation and the Tagalog word for woven. Project Hinabi is a series of woven efforts of the community to create safe spaces and conversations.

This effort, in collaboration with PLDT and Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart), intends to provide a platform for early diagnosis and assistance for youngsters dealing with stress, anxiety, doubts, hopelessness, bewilderment, and other mental pressures.

The project is also in accordance with the city’s Mental Health Program, as well as PLDT and Smart’s Better Today programs, which encourage mental health, family and child internet safety, and youth empowerment and changemaking.

“It’s an honor to observe how our partners in General Santos City, particularly its youth sector, have become mental health co-champions as a result of Project Hinabi.” “Better Today envisions a safe space for Filipino youth to drive conversations about mental health awareness – all in the hopes of creating a more empathic culture, both offline and online, within families and communities,” said Smart Assistant Vice President and Head of Government Relations Jose Lukban Rosete.

Project Hinabi, according to Sangguniang Kabataan Federation President and City Councilor John Salvador D. Demdam, facilitates either remote or face-to-face sessions between potential clients and wellness aids.

“Each pilot barangay will be given a hotline number that potential consumers can call.” “Remote sessions will be conducted by phone call from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Mondays through Saturdays,” he stated.

A sample Psychological First Aid Training simulation is reenacted during the launch of Project Hinabi.

Meanwhile, for face-to-face sessions, Demdam said prior booking is required. 

“The sessions are only limited to two sessions in the morning and two sessions in the afternoon from 8am to 5pm on Mondays to Fridays only,” he said.

Residents in Gensan will get SMS warnings concerning mental health as part of the campaign, thanks to Smart’s Infocast service. InfoCast is a web-based text broadcast service that allows customers to send out alerts to specified groups of people and gather reaction from mobile users.

Through efforts that assure food security, boost nutrition, and raise awareness online, PLDT and Smart hope to uplift and improve the entire physical and emotional welfare of Filipinos.

These programs highlight PLDT and Smart’s commitment to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), notably SDG #3: Good Health and Well-Being.