The Autism Research Initiative: Service Through Learning | By Nicole Profeta

In line with Talang Dalisay’s mission of raising awareness on mental health, the organization has moved towards the field of academic research in the hopes of gathering and spreading more accurate information. The newly-formed research groups aim to conduct studies and collect more accurate data on MH issues which may be used to educate and inform the general public.

The first research group was formed earlier this month and was tasked to conduct studies and research initiatives on Autism in the Philippines. The members comprising the research group come from different universities and affiliations, and are all avid mental health advocates. We were able to interview some members on their views on mental health.

What prompted you to sign up to be a researcher for Talang Dalisay?

Bernard Eseo:
I have always been passionate for the ASD community. My brother who has autism inspires me to write and research more about ASD, particularly in the Philippines . An opportunity like this must not be taken for granted. I feel that there is a need to further research about mental health and ASD in the Philippines because the reach and engagement with the common public and certain mental health societies do not necessarily meet. The more knowledge there is, the more we are equipped to providing our services and research to the people who need them.

Vianca Anglo:
As a part of globalising world and as culture and technological evolutions are being made our social stances and responsibility with each other should also evolve and be more equipped in facing the different issues faced in society. In taking part of these conversations and events that would prompt a more stable and inclusive environment, we as a nation build a more united and safer future for every Filipino of today and tomorrow.

Donnabelle Mallari:

I don’t want others feel that they are alone in their fights so I would like to help people with mental disability through research. Morever, knowing that mental health disorders will affect almost everyone, I would like to help atleast to lessen this among people.

Nicole Timbol Garcia:

I found a new hobby last year and that’s doing research. Also, lately, my big brother (often misunderstood) is thought to be an autistic person by a mental health expert. With that, I would like to know more of these things.

Why do you consider yourself a mental health advocate?

Bernard Eseo:
I have witnessed mental health since my brother was born and I took it into heart that it is both a beautiful and amazing thing. More people should be aware of the current situation of our local communities with mental health issues.

Vianca Anglo:
In being a mental health advocate means being aware and more sensitive on topics that are of concern to our citizens. In being a mental health advocate means that every aspect of biological, mental, and psychological are addressed and treated. There should be an equitable attention given to mental health as there is to physical health.

Donnabelle Mallari:

Honestly, if an advocate is one who educates others about mental health, conducts seminars and workshops about mental health, then, I am not considered as an advocate, but I would like to be one if given the opportunity. Sometimes, I let others and myself be aware of the mental health through social media by sharing posts about it. Also, I do my best (even if not enough) to live what I want others to know as well.

Nicole Timbol Garcia:

As of the moment, I can’t consider myself an advocate yet. I am still in the process of widening my knowledge and honing my skills to be prepped of being just that -an advocate of mental health.
Why is mental health important?
Bernard Eseo: The mind is extraordinary – molded by various factors and genuine genial inheritance – that there are so many possibilities and outcomes yet they all serve one purpose. Mental health is important because it can happen to our loved ones, and special people in our lives and people around the world. The goal is not everyone to be normal but rather to accept that there are changes in our society when it comes to different kinds of mental ailments. The importance of mental health arises due to the ever-growing discoveries and knowledge.
Vianca Anglo:
Promoting a healthy mind will lead to a healthy lifestyle and vice versa. In strengthening our people, both physically and mentally, we can strengthen our nation, and vice versa. Implementation of laws and accessibility to mental health services and medications should be a basic right that each of us should receive.

Donnabelle Mallari:

It affects the way people think, feel and act. It is the foundation of people’s emotions, actions and reactions. If mental health is neglected, people tend to misbehave in the society. It is also a reason for the different behaviors that we could see to people. If mental health is neglected, the physical, social, emotional and intellectual aspects of the person will also be sacrificed. If people are given help in this, productivity, contribution and cooperation are expected to happen.

Nicole Timbol Garcia:

All action comes from the brain.

Besides volunteering for organizations like Talang Dalisay, what else do you do to make sure the mental health advocacy stays relevant in Philippine society?

Bernard Eseo:
I take time to understand the friends and people who are going through such. I am not necessarily part of a formal institution but I take my time to lend a helping hand and ear to those who need company the most.

Vianca Anglo:
[By] promoting Positive Psych in Psych conventions -taking part in debates about mental health care – joining and volunteering in support groups and counseling services.

Donnabelle Mallari:

Actually, it is my first time to be part of mental health organization and I am not really doing things which will greatly contribute to the Philippine society. However, if little things are counted, then maybe I am doing something. I share my experiences in social media or small group discussion such as the one we have in church. I encourage others through social media by sharing posts which are relevant to this or through talking to those people who needs help. I accept a position in our support team (to help those students who feel stressed in their studies). If possible, I help others believe that everything is fine by giving them pieces of advice.

Nicole Timbol Garcia:

None as of the moment, however, I am looking for opportunities to spread it’s importance to the society.

The first group’s research paper is currently ongoing and will hopefully be published at the end of the year. We hope to get more out of autism awareness here in the Philippines, to help enhance the empathetic community we envision for them. 

To know more about our program, please email us at

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