Liwanag 2020 Awards: Promoting Promising Practices on Mental Health

The Philippine Mental Health Association, Inc. (PMHA), in partnership with the United Nations Population Fund in the Philippines (UNFPA), successfully held the 1st Liwanag 2020 Awards on December 12, 2020, to recognize and honor organizations and institutions whose program or initiatives have potential for sustainable impact in the field of mental health.

The event, which was held online, was attended by 145 representatives from various organizations and agencies as well as collaborating organizations that are all stakeholders of mental health.

Why Liwanag? Liwanag is a Filipino word that means light. It also stands for beacon which serves as a guide or a signal for celebration. PMHA adapted the term Liwanag in order to underscore the need for a light or a beacon that will illuminate the advocacy for mental health.

As the PMHA initiated the “Light Up Blue for Mental Health!” Campaign last October to signify support for the mental health advocacy and accessibility for mental health services, the Liwanag 2020 Awards shifts the spotlight of mental health to other organizations who, in one way or another, have initiated mental health programs that are worthy of being celebrated and emulated. The number of awardees was set to 18 to complement the 18 Days of Activism to end Violence Against Women which is a campaign initiative of the UNFPA.

The Liwanag 2020 Awardees were classified according to four pillars:

1. For the Youth, By the Youth

These are the outstanding companies and government or non-government organizations who put the well-being of the youth or their fellow youth at the center of their advocacy for mental health. They ensure that promotion and prevention activities are implemented and make services available for those who need them, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Awardees: UNILAB Foundation and UP Diliman Psychological Services

2. Community-Based Programs

These are government or non-government organizations who put the well-being of the community through mobilizing community resources to support the creation and implementation of different mental health and psychosocial support programs in their respective communities.

Awardees: Wellbeing Cluster PH; Balik Kalipay Center; Local Government Unit of Barangay Betag; Philippine Red Cross, Municipality of Lake Sebu Health Office; Foundation AWIT; and, LoveYourself- Flourish Circle

3. Enabling Workplace

These are outstanding companies or organizations that put the well-being of their employees at the center of their work through programs and initiatives tailored to the needs of their employees. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, these companies and organizations still continued to take care of their employees’ mental health by providing support and services for those individuals who might be coping differently.

Awardees: Information Technology & Business Process Association of the Philippines or IBPAP; Canva Philippines; UNILAB Inc.; and, Miriam College Integrated Lifestyle and Wellness (ILAW) Center

4. Women Empowerment and Support

These companies and organizations have programs preventing gender-based violence and protecting women in the workplace, and support and services targeted to women and LGBTIA+ in the workplaces.

Awardees: Girls Got Game; Sulong!; Tahanan Sta. Luisa, Inc.; Lunas Collective; and, SPARK Philippines

The top 18 organizations and institutions were assessed by a panel of 9 distinguished judges based on the following criteria: 40% – Lawak or the Impact of the program or initiative); 35% – Likha or the innovativeness of their strategies in program implementation and 25% – Lakip or inclusion component of the program.

Aside from presenting the highlights of their respective programs or projects during the actual day of the Awards, each winning organization and institution was given a cash grant and recognition certificates.

Apart from the awarding ceremonies, the Awarding Ceremony also included inspirational messages from John Ryan Buenaventura-UNFPA Humanitarian Coordinator, Dr. Carolina Uno-Rayco- PMHA National Executive Director, and Dr. Rena Dona- UNFPA Assistant Representative and Officer-in-Charge.

Aimee Santos, UNFPA Gender and Gender-Based Violence National Program Officer, also shared the highlights of the “18 Days of Activism” Campaign of the UNFPA while the Project Head of the UNFPA and PMHA Partnership on “Caring for Women and Young People’s Mental Health,” Llewelyn Issa B. dela Cruz, also presented the highlights and accomplishments of the projects for the last 3 months of its implementation.

A special performance by mental health advocate and Philippine Bossa Nova Queen, Sitti Navarro, was also one of the event highlights as her song “Try” (which is an original of Colbie Calliat) encourages women to accept who they are and not to be afraid to show their true self.

The event was held via Zoom and shared thru Facebook Live and can still be viewed at the official Facebook pages of the Philippine Mental Health Association, Inc. and the United Nations Population Fund in the Philippines.

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