Hi! Let me share this project’s story. 🙂
Mental Health AWHEREness’ Story
The Mental Health AWHEREness project began in 2017. Data were gathered from online lists by mental health campaigns across the Philippines which includes even a Reddit wiki thread. Crowd-sourcing 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 I was also undergoing mental health problems, and had to focus on myself.
In May 2018, the Mental Health AWHEREness Map was re-launched using a free web hosting platform (https://mhawherenessph.wixsite.com/mhaph) to display the hard-coded interactive map. I chose to hard-code the map instead to avoid having to pay for a web-mapping platform as back in 2017. I 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. I had to learn coding to do this! Thanks to my GIS background, it was a bit easier since I already work with maps. But, thank you to OpenStreetMap, Mapbox, Carto, and Leaflet!
However, the goal to reach many people was not easily achievable with a long url with short recall. Thus, I have decided to buy a personal domain to make the mhaphmap.com out of my own pocket, and share this platform to more people.
The ambassador account for the webGIS platform 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, I have decided to adapt a new process to display an interactive map and at the same time, do crowdmapping (facilmap.org). I’m also trying to learn how to code the whole thing (from crowdmapping, to adding previous data, to automatic visualization on an interative map).
In May 2019, it was a great pleasure to be joined by close friends and loved ones in this journey. Thanks to Pearl and Toshi, the Mental Health AWHEREness Project is now moving forward and opening its doors to more people and more opportunities!
Mental Health AWHEREness has been going through a major website overhaul for this past week (second week of July 2019?) to do this. More data were also collated into the list/database last May. So more places to map, but more places to tell people to reach out to! Map points are also being transferred to this new open-source map platform. So, please bear with us!
ALSO, WE’RE LOOKING FOR VOLUNTEERS! 🙂 THIS HAS BEEN HARD TO DO ALONE BEFORE, AND WE WOULD LIKE TO SHARE IT WITH MORE PEOPLE SO IT COULD STAY AND IMPROVE FOREVER (EVEN IF I DIE SOON, OR WHATEVER). SO YES, COME DO THIS WITH TOSHI, PEARL, AND ME, PLEASE? Please see the “How to volunteer” page for more information. Maraming salamat!