Mental Health AWHEREness, previously Mental Health AWHEREness PH Map, is an online platform and a map that shows the locations of mental health facilities and services that offer help to people with depression, anxiety, drug and alcohol dependency, etc., within the Philippines.
It is also a crowdsourcing map which encourages volunteers to help by contributing their local knowledge on places, specifically by mapping services and resources that cater to mental health needs. Aside from the website instructions, mapathons or offline mapping workshops are conducted to teach volunteers how to map these places. (https://overpass-turbo.eu/s/KGe)
Through this map, we hope that more people who are dealing with mental health issues would be encouraged to reach out and seek help.
The project began in 2017. Data were gathered from online lists by mental health campaigns across the Philippines which includes even a Reddit wiki thread. Crowdsourcing through shared Google documents and personal recommendations from friends were also utilized to compile lists of services (both paid and free) in the country.
From experience, seeking help would mean having to let people know that you are undergoing depression, or a mental health problem. But the stigma on mental health -- other people's thinking that this is bad, or you may be crazy, makes people embarrassed to ask friends, or family, for recommendations on doctors, or clinics/hospitals, medications, where to consult or have yourself professionally diagnosed. But, showing these data on a map which can be accessible by anyone by themselves would mean not having to go through this process of asking other people and feeling worse because of their reactions.
In its initial launch in 2017, the project used free trial for a web-mapping platform to display the map in the hopes of saving enough funds to acquire a paid account. However, things did not turn out well, as the person who spearheaded was also undergoing mental health problems, and had to focus on herself.
In May 2018, the Mental Health AWHEREness Map was re-launched using a free web development platform (https://mhawherenessph.wixsite.com/mhaph) to display the hard-coded interactive map. She chose to hard-code the map instead to avoid having to pay for a web-mapping platform as back in 2017. She also applied for an ambassador account to make use of the mapping tile features and interactive map features of webGIS (Thank you so much, CartoDB!), so there was no cost needed to make the map interactive and online.
However, the goal to reach many people was not easily achievable with a long url with short recall. Thus, she decided to buy a personal domain to make the mhaphmap.com out of her own pocket, and share this platform to more people.
Why do we need funds? Because we want to ensure that this platform and map exists to further crowdsource and share data to those dealing with mental health problems, thus, encouraging them to seek professional help, and fight the stigma on mental health,
The ambassador account for the webGIS platorm was only for a year. Although thankfully, the map is still online, there is still a possibility of it getting offline any day this year. Thus, we have decided to adapt a new process to display an interactive map and at the same time, do crowdmapping. Mental Health AWHEREness has been going through a major website overhaul for this past week to do this. Map points are also being transferred to this new open-source map platform.
The personal domain subscription for the website will be expiring, and needs renewal and upgrade this July, 2019.
Funds will go towards the following: - paying for the domain/hosting of the website (expiring on July 14, 2019) - managing the data and crowdsourced information - establishing a bigger volunteer group to support the project (everything has been done by one person from the start!) - training more people to manage the project and to transfer the technical skills to do so - updating the website and adding new features - social media ads/sponsored posts to make the project more visible, thus reaching more people who might need it - mapathon/offline mapping workshops cost for logistics, food and venue, etc. - inclusion of more mental health talks in the mapathons; honorarium for speakers, other costs - production of more mental health and mapping materials
-- (This was made out of the desire to help people and not have to experience the same experiences I had. I've been through a tough time for a long while without seeking professional help or even help from friends and family. I thought counselling would be too expensive or too far from my home. I was also too embarrassed to ask friends for recommendations on where best to go get help that's accessible and within the city. So, hopefully with this map, I hope that those who are having the same trouble as I had, would be encouraged to seek help.)
With this, I would like to say thank you to everyone who has taken the time to contribute to the Mental Health AWHEREness. Thank you for sharing about it and for sharing the advocacy to promote mental health awareness and fight the stigma on mental health.