Laguna-based rehab center champions mental health through comic book

Nicole Anne del Rosario
'Cyber Brain' is about man’s overdependence on technology in a highly-digitized world and how it affects people’s state of mind

DEDICATION. The One Algon Place Foundation launches Cyber Brain comic book on February 22, 2019 at New World Hotel, Makati City. (From left to right: Dr. Eric Tayag, Mr. Rudin Gonzalez III, Atty. Toni Umali). Photo by Nicole Anne Del Rosario/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Laguna-based rehabilitation facility The One Algon Place Foundation has unveiled a comic book series that tackles mental health and forms of addiction among the youth.

Launched at the New World Hotel in Makati City on Friday February 22, the series entitled Cyber Brain is dedicated to the foundation’s late founder Rudin Gonzales Jr, his son Rudin III said.

The comic book series is about a man’s overdependence on technology in a highly-digitized world and how it affects people’s state of mind.

Mental health is one of society’s most pressing concerns being addressed by various government agencies and other organizations. The promotion of mental health and well-being, and the prevention and treatment of substance abuse have been included in the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (UN-SDGs).

In the Philippines,  Republic Act No. 11036 or the Mental Health Act of the Philippines was signed into law in 2018, while its implementing rules and regulations were issued in January. (READ: A cry for help: Mental health illness, suicide cases rising among youth)

Reaching out to youth

“While these issues are being discussed in various venues, we need to reach out to those with the highest stakes – the children themselves. And we need to do it in a manner they would grasp,” said Cyber Brain author Cel Casas Gonzales.

The story revolves around the character named Uno, an adopted barrio child who has special powers and great mental strength, who is on a quest for his identity and origin.

In his quest, he reaches Tech City, where he finds his true mission.

The comic book aims to spread awareness and educate people, especially the youth, about the importance of mental health through an innovative way. (READ: [OPINION] A psychiatrist’s view: Common misconceptions about mental health)

It also seeks to work hand-in-hand with government and private institutions on a creative campaign for mental health awareness among Filipinos.

Gonzales, an accredited Department of Health rehabilitation practitioner, believes that comics are one of the best ways to deliver the message to any target audience because people are used to bold colors, catchy images, and clever dialogues.

She said Cyber Brain is a product of workshops, surveys, consultations, and roadshows across various schools in Metro Manila. She wrote the book with other contributors, while her brother, Carmelo Casas, took care of the illustrations.

“Among the behavioral issues that surfaced in the roadshows were bullying, violence, computer addiction, gaming and pornography, absenteeism and tardiness, disrespect for elders, and poor study habits,” Gonzales said.

To address these issues, a forum on mental health was conducted after the book launch together with DOH Assistant Secretary Eric Tayag and Education Undersecretary Tony Umali.

“You cannot be a passive observer. Every moment counts,” Tayag said.

During the forum, Tayag reminded everyone to take part in ensuring good mental health for every Filipino which is an integral part of health.

He also called on all Filipinos, especially the youth, to take action to protect everyone’s mental health by tapping Hopeline, the 24-hour suicide prevention hotline launched by the DOH, World Health Organization, and Natasha Goulbourn Foundation (NGF).

Hopeline may be reached at (02) 804-HOPE (4673), 0917-558-HOPE (4673), and 2919 for Globe and TM subscribers.

Victim, not offender

People who may be under the influence of illegal drugs, including the youth, may also reach out through Hopeline to ask for help regarding their problems.

“A child must be treated as a victim rather than an offender,” Umali said.

He stressed that a child under the influence of illegal drugs still have the right to education under Article XIII Section 1 of the Philippine Constitution. However, certain disciplinary sanctions shall be given such as bringing them to a rehabilitation center.  

 HELPING A CHILD. Every purchase of the comic book means sponsorship of a “student” or a drug dependent child from the The Academy of Hope rehabilitation center. Photo by Nicole Anne Del Rosario/Rappler

Buy a comic book, help a child

The One Algon Place Foundation Executive Director Rudin Gonzales III announced that every purchase of the comic book will mean the sponsorship of a “student” or a drug-dependent child at The Academy of Hope rehabilitation center.

You can have a copy of the comic book for only ₱150. Cyber Brain can also be downloaded online. It is available at The One Algon Place Foundation, Inc, 0633 Barangay Mamatid, Cabuyao, Laguna. 

He’s also eyeing the release of the comic book through different book stores nationwide. – Rappler.com

Nicole Anne D. Del Rosario is a Rappler Intern. She is a 4th year AB Communication student of De La Salle University-Dasmariñas.