December 6, 2023

Incidents involving people with mental health concerns have been happening in our city lately. One of these incidents supposedly could have been prevented but no one acted on it. What happened to our social values?
In a recent speaking engagement, Mayor Benjamin Magalong narrated the Parable of the Good Samaritan. As children, we are always taught the noble values of the parable – compassion empathy, readiness to help without hesitation, and serving others without expecting anything in return.
The parable is in cognizance of how human civilization nurtures. Anthropologist Margarette Mead said the first sign of civilization was a femur that had been broken and then healed. She said, “A broken femur that healed is evidence that someone has taken time to stay with the one who has fallen, has bound up the wound, has carried the person to safety, and has tended the person through recovery. Helping someone else through difficulty is where civilization starts.” It is the value of empathy and altruism that transcends humanity. Sadly, we’re losing these values.
The Cordillera is rich with social values and a sense of community. One of the core values of Cordilleran culture is the inayan, which guides one to do what is right and just. Another is binnadang, which promotes mutual aid among members of the community. It encourages people to help one another in times of need and to work together for the common good. We also have ubbog, which emphasizes the importance of humility and respect for others. It encourages people to listen to others, to be open-minded, and to treat everyone with kindness and compassion. Yet again, why can’t we use these values in reaching out to people suffering from mental health conditions?
In recent years, there has been a growing recognition of the importance of mental health and its impact on individuals, families, and communities.
The social values mentioned were supposedly a pillar to maintain our wellbeing.
Despite this, there continues to be a stigma surrounding mental health that prevents people from seeking help and support when they need it. This stigma is rooted in a broader societal shift over the past few decades, in which our value system has become increasingly focused on the individual rather than the collective.
In the “Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology in 2016,” rates of depression and anxiety in individualistic cultures and collectivistic cultures have been compared. The study presents that individuals living in individualistic cultures had higher rates of depression and anxiety than those living in collectivistic cultures, suggesting that cultural values may play a role in mental health outcomes.
The rapid modernization of our city slowly fades the importance of cultural and societal values. Sadly, even the older generations have forgotten to practice and exhibit these values. To an extent, communitarian values are now being despised. Instead of showing empathy, victims are ridiculed for their mental condition. Regardless of generation, many people do not know what mental illness is or how it affects people. Instead of demonstrating binnadang to people in need, they may make assumptions or judgments about people with mental health issues based on stereotypes or misinformation.
To combat mental illnesses such as depression and the stigma surrounding mental health, we need to educate ourselves and others about mental illness and work to break down the stereotypes and misinformation that contribute to the stigma.
Most importantly, we need to revitalize our value systems. By recognizing the importance of mental health and supporting those who struggle with mental illness, we can build a more compassionate and empathetic society that values the well-being of all its members.
As what the Good Samaritan teaches us, we all have a responsibility to care for each other, especially those who are in need. By showing kindness and compassion towards those who are struggling with mental illness, we can help to create a more empathetic and supportive society where everyone feels valued and supported.