By Rabbiah Dispo (Class 2021)
As part of the UPCM Mental Health Week 2018, the Mu Sigma Phi Fraternity, in partnership with the UPCM Office for Resiliency, Diversity, Gender Sensitivity and Community, and the UP Medicine Student Council, conducted a film screening for the UP Manila community last October 23, 2018. Aptly called, “Mind Matters: A Film Screening and Discussion on Dementia and Autism Spectrum Disorder”, the event featured documentaries exclusively from the Quisumbing-Escandor Film Festival for Health (QEFF).
The first film shown, “Elehiya sa Paglimot” (An Elegy to Forgetting) by Kristoffer Brugada, was presented mainly from the filmmaker’s perspective as he documents his and his family’s personal experiences in navigating daily life and their means of coping as his father, Mang Pedring, succumbs to the physical and mental effects of Alzheimer’s Disease. Dr. Veeda Michelle Anlacan, a neurologist who specializes in memory disorders, was invited to synthesize the learning points from the documentary and address a number of questions from the attendees. Apart from giving a brief overview of the three stages of dementia, she also pointed out that about eight to eleven percent of the elderly population probably have dementia. There are only about ten dementia specialists in the country, thus Dr. Anlacan urged the health care workers and students among the audience to maximize their roles in spreading awareness about the condition, especially to the families of those affected. According to Dr. Anlacan, the most effective means of helping the family cope is by creating an individualized approach based on the existing family structure and personal attitude of the members.
“Wish” by Sheen Seeckts, was the second and final documentary for the evening, and primarily revolves around Heinz, a 12-year old boy diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The film provides a glimpse of his behavior at home and at school, and the corresponding reactions and effects to his relationship with his parents, classmates, and teachers. Pediatrician Dr. Marianne Joy Naria-Maritana then took to the podium to similarly provide commentary and shed some light on ASD. She focused the discussion on the aftermaths of a child’s unusual behavior to his personal relationships with parents, siblings, peers, and other adults. She further emphasized the importance of further understanding what ASD is and providing means of raising children with such conditions to be well-adjusted and productive members of the community. She concluded by reiterating that what is most important and truly needed, is to love these children as they are, and helping them to be the best version of themselves.
The recurring theme throughout the event was to break the stigma regarding these mental illnesses, and to do our part as health care professionals and students in empowering and equipping our patients, along with their families and peers, to cope and live beyond the limits of their condition.
Photo provided by Mu Sigma Phi Fraternity.