Miss International 2016 Kylie Verzosa has created a Facebook page called Mental Health Matters by Kylie Verzosa, which helps spread awareness on mental health issues.
There is also an accompanying private Facebook group that acts as an online support for people suffering from mental illnesses like depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder.
"I started it around five months ago," Kylie revealed.
"It’s supposed to be a community where we share, or my team and I—we have a professional on board—share articles about depression and bring more awareness."
PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal) caught up with Kylie at the Timex launch of its fall collection in SM Mall of Asia Atrium, Pasay City on Monday, October 23.
Kylie continued, "It’s a Facebook page, but we hold talks or we’re invited for talks and events."
The 25-year-old beauty queen has done talks in Ateneo and U.P. as well as in different provinces, and is also the ambassador for the World Health Organization's mental health campaign Depression: Let's Talk.
"This is the only way I could reach out to them," she explained.
"I get so much inquiries on my personal accounts on Instagram, on Facebook, and I wanted to help them all.
"And I didn’t know how to reach them all. I do talks in universities, I also go to TV interviews. But there’s this niche that I can’t help.
"So this is why I put up a support group. So whenever I get messages, I just forward them to the support group.
"And we have someone there answering them as quick as possible. Like there’s someone there 24 hours, so that mababantayan yung group. So it’s very active."
ONLINE SUPPORT SYSTEM. The private group helps people get through their condition.
She detailed, "We have a separate group called Mental Health Matters Support Group for people really going through depression or bipolar [disorder], so that they have a community aside from their family.
"You know when you’re going through it, you need a support system and sometimes they don’t have that.
"So they go online and they search. This is a good support group, and we get important information, and they’re all screened, and, so far, my team has helped four people.
"They’ve saved their lives. So yeah, it’s a good group..."
Kylie said she and her group of volunteers which includes a psychiatrist take their members seriously, so they also take steps and precautions in accepting each member.
"They have to be diagnosed. It’s screened, we don’t accept everyone. So it’s a private group. And we get their personal information or number. Just so if something happens, we know who to call or who to contact."
LIKE-MINDED PEOPLE. Kylie talked passionately about her group, "We have a volunteer psychiatrist, trained psychiatrist. Because things like these, it cannot be taken lightly. We need professional advice.
"We’re not here to counsel or to diagnose you or to give you medication, to tell you this or that," she clarified.
"We’re here to give you like-minded people who have gone through the same thing, [give] advice from our point of view.
"So it’s more of a, 'We have experienced the same kind of thing.'
"So if you need help, let us know. We do have a list of psychiatrists and places you could go to for help, so we recommend that.
"It’s more on connection, reaching out, and finding someone to talk to. So this support group, it’s a growing community and eventually we need more volunteers."
The young beauty queen has been very vocal about her own battle with clinical depression, which she had been diagnosed with after college.
Kylie's father was also diagnosed with bipolar disorder, so she knows what it's like to suffer through a mental illness, and the stigma that goes with it.
HOW TO BE THERE. For Kylie, having a support system helped her triumph over her mental illness.
"You know, going through depression or any kind of mental illness is very difficult for the family and friends," she recognized.
"They’re gonna have to be more patient, they have to listen to the person going through it. Be more compassionate. You can say things like, 'I'm here for you,' but really mean it and be generally sincere about it.
"'I'm here for you, we'll get through this together. You'll survive this.'
"Don’t say things like, 'Snap out of it' or 'Nag-iinarte ka lang' or 'Sakit iyan ng mga mayaman.'
"You have to acknowledge that it’s a real medical condition and sickness that is oftentimes confused with being just depressed and sad feelings."
Kylie also underscored the importance of going to a mental health professional.
"Just be open about it and care for the person. Be there for them. And advise them to go seek professional help."