Hey, everyone! 

We, Rikaela Gabriel and JP Apellido are third-year psychology students from the Ateneo de Manila University. We are currently volunteering for EA Philippines’ Cause Prioritization and Career Advice Research, which aims to find out what are the best causes Filipinos can contribute to and what career paths they can take to help in these causes. 

As part of this project, we wanted to write a research paper about the scale and neglectedness of mental health in the Philippines. This work was supervised by Brian Tan, co-founder of EA Philippines. Brian encouraged JP and I (Rika) to do this work because mental health is one of the top cause areas that Charity Entrepreneurship identified for their charity ideas in 2020, and their research into this topic made us think that this could be an impactful cause to work on locally for Filipinos.

Our research had three main objectives: 

  1. Identify the different disorders and injuries associated with mental health in the Philippines
  2. Find out the DALY and prevalence burden of mental health disorders and self-harm cases (which we shortened as MHDSCs) in the Philippines
  3. Assess the neglectedness of MHDSCs in the Philippines in terms of budget allocation, available workforce, and available services and facilities that cater to mental health.

The larger goal of this research is to provide information to our target audience (i.e., EAs in the Philippines, or impact-minded Filipinos more generally) with data on if mental health is a big and neglected cause to work on locally and to help inform them on which disorders to focus on in order to improve mental health in the Philippines.

Given this, we would like to ask a few people in the EA community who have interest or experience in the field of mental health to give feedback on the content of our paper. More specifically, we’d like your thoughts on the following questions:

  1. What are your general thoughts on the paper? What did we do well on it?
  2. What could we improve about it?
  3. What could we be missing in this paper or something that we haven’t considered?
  4. What do you think we should do further research or work on to figure out what Filipinos can do to best improve mental health locally?

You may view our paper here on Google Docs. We hope you could share your thoughts on its content through the comments section of this post, or by adding comments on the Google document itself.

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Nice work!  I'm not a mental health professional, but you seem to have covered the important topics - what is the scope, what is the burden and prevalence of different subcategories, and what is the state of the mental health care. The report was comprehensible for me and I felt it communicated the main points well.

One thing I was missing is putting the numbers in context - interpreting absolute numbers to get a sense of relative importance can be difficult. For instance, how does the burden of 2 million DALYs compare to the total disease burden in Philippines? How does the percentage of DOH budget or workforce  per 100,000 compare to other countries or some other baseline health cause? Or maybe how does it compare to other areas of EA interest? Depending on your audience, contrasting with appropriate baseline or the desired state can be helpful.

If you would like to study this area further, the obvious advice is to talk to professionals that may be familiar with the bottlenecks, low-hanging fruits and such (if you haven't done that already). If you manage to identify some concrete intervention opportunities, it could help you make your results comparable to other opportunities EA Philippines can contribute to  (I like  Charity Entrepreneurship research process as inspiration).

As it happens, I've recently witnessed a new volunteer mental health project in Czechia and I liked the way they set it up - they reached out to nonprofits working in this area (also to the DOH and some researchers, with somewhat less success) and conducted a lightweight qualitative research. This helped them determine their focus (providing accessible information to young people and teenagers).

Thank you for taking the time to read our paper and share your feedback on our work! Right now, we are working to compare the total DALYs from MHDSCs to the total DALYs from all the diseases included in the GBD. We may also include more baselines to compare the scale and neglectedness of mental health in the Philippines to that of other countries/causes.

I  also appreciate your input on the further work that we can do. For the next phase of our research, we may focus on describing (and maybe evaluating) existing interventions/projects/organizations that aim to alleviate the burden of MHDSCs in the country. We will definitely be using Charity Entrepreneurship's research process and the input of mental health professionals as an inspiration and/or guide to this further research.

Regarding the mental health project that you witnessed, I am interested in reading about their process and progress! Would you happen to know if such a writeup exists and if it does, if this writeup is available for public viewing?

Materials on the project are public, but they are in Czech only, unfortunately. I'll send you a private  message.

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