Philippines’ Typhoon Haiyan Relief: Collective Effort

Philippine Typhoon Haiyan Relief: Collective Effort

Last year had its experience of natural disasters. The Philippines Typhoon remains to be a natural disaster is one that took me by storm (no pun intended). As I have shared in my June blog entries, I traveled to the Philippines with USC’s Global Immersion Program focusing on Human Trafficking. We traveled to Manila, Subic Bay, and Querzon City, to name a few locations. The women I spoke to and the experiences I gained while walking through the slums will forever be part of my memory. When I first found out about the typhoon that hit Tacloban and surrounding areas in November 2013, I was surprised to hear the amount of devastation the disaster caused. People lost loved ones, homes, and a sense of safety in their neighborhoods.

Casey Neistat, a guy who received $25,000 from 20th Century Fox to originally create a trailer for the movie The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, decided to use the funds to provide food and supplies to the victims of the typhoon. With the funds, Casey and his volunteers provided over 10,000 meals, tools to 35 villages, and basic medical supplies to local organizations. Although the average person may not have access to this large amount of money at any given time, we can work together and assist one another in times of need. The key word here is together.

[Click on this link to watch Casey’s video]

The natural disaster relief efforts for the Philippine Typhoon that I am happy to have participated in was a clothing & supplies drive with the Asian & Pacific Islander Caucus (APISWC) of USC’s School of Social Work. Donations were collected from students, faculty, and staff over a two-week period. After packaging the donations, APISWC produced 20 large box donations that were delivered to Goldilocks, a Filipino bakery, where the donations were then shipped to the Philippines. API SWC also collected approximately $1,500 in monetary donations as of today, which will be provided to WeGovern Institute, a resource and advocacy institute that “seeks to advance new politics that empowers the people” of the Philippines (wegoverninstitute.org).

Everyone has a mission to assist those in need, regardless of your political beliefs socioeconomic status or education level. We are all equally vulnerable to some level of devastation and pain, like the Filipino people experienced in November. Together, we can continue to assist the Philippines rebuild again.

Two Mental Health Resources to Check Out

Mental health is a topic that isn’t going to go away.

The needs for mental health services will not disappear; nor will they be silenced by the stigma that is prevalent in our society.

I was to bring attention to two resources that encourage the sharing of personal stories about mental illness and mental health. The two resources are OK2Talk (ok2talk.org) in California, USA and Walk In My Shoes (walkinmyshoes.ie) in Ireland.

Ok2Talk is a resource for pre-teens, adolescents, and transitional age youth (18-26 years old) that provides the opportunity for them to share their stories and experiences of mental illness with the world. Reading the stories, you will notice the strength, resiliency, and courage of these young people. This site is a wonderful example of the implementation of the Recovery Model that I have discussed in previous blog entries. Hope is threaded throughout all, if not most, of the stories shared. The knowledge that one is not alone in the battle they are facing with symptoms of mental illness, or even the daily struggles of a young/emerging adult, creates a sense of community among the writers. OK2Talk also provides access to immediate counseling services through their hotline 1-800-273-TALK and providing a link to MentalHealth.gov. MentalHealth.gov provides a larger database of hotlines and resources for those seeking help.

The agencies that are supporting this amazing resource of recovery for our current and younger generations are The National Association of Broadcasters (NBA), Mental Health America, The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), California’s Mental Health Movement: Each Mind Matters, Bring Change to Mind (bringchange2mind.org), Active Minds, and The Entertainment Industries Council, Inc.

The second resource is Walk In My Shoes in Ireland. Even though this resource isn’t based here in the United States, the site reminds us that the prevalence of mental illness is an international issue. Similar to OK2Talk, people can submit their personal stories of living with and managing a mental illness. This resource includes stories that are from youth and adults. In addition to sharing stories and fostering a sense of community, as does OK2Talk, Walk in My Shoes also raises awareness about hearing and learning about others’ experiences with mental illness by encouraging people to walk in shoes that are not necessary theirs; hence, walking in someone’s shoes.

Regardless of age, socioeconomic status, sex, gender, or race, mental health issues and one’s path towards recovery is a universal experience. Begin and continue the discussion about mental health and mental illness.