Stacey Daniella Gabriel is one girl who can do it all: she has a remarkable acting career, she speaks eloquently, and just recently, she slayed the beauty pageant world and was named Binibining Pilipinas 2022 2nd runner-up. But more than these accomplishments, it is her passion as a mental health warrior that makes her shine more.
She recently joined Araneta City’s World Mental Health Day virtual forum last October 10 to discuss her campaign on mental health awareness. “I am so thrilled to celebrate World Mental Health day with you. I feel profoundly blessed to belong to a family that marks this occasion, that marks these significant moments because by doing so you send a message to your shoppers, your mall-goers, concert watchers, employees, and members that mental health matters to us, and it should matter to you too.” Gabriel said.
During her stint at this year’s Binibining Pilipinas pageant, Stacey was vocal about her advocacy on the accessibility of Mental Health and how it has fueled her to aim for a wider platform to raise awareness on this issue.
“About two months ago, I had the privilege of a lifetime of taking the Binibining Pilipinas stage and speaking about one of my deepest passions, when I said I dream of a country where mental health care is destigmatized and democratized”, Stacey shared.
This was rooted in how she was able to heal through medical health services. She saw the amount of time and finances needed to address the psychological battles of a person. This made her realize that she has to address the need to make medical help more accessible and available to all.
“I am privileged enough to have access to medication. I decided about a year ago to finally take medication for my anxiety and OCD and that has changed my life tremendously. But I know that it isn’t for everybody and that it isn’t accessible to everybody, unfortunately, as sad as it is”.
During the forum, she gave tools that are in her arsenal that she used to take advantage of back when she hadn’t gone through medication and therapy yet. Here are the quick fixes one can do to immediately address distress.
- Exercise – I often say that mental health is physical health; they are one and the same. When I feel scattered and overwhelmed, and when I feel that the weight of the world is dragging me down, there’s nothing like metabolizing my emotions through movement. That always helps me think clearer and feel a little bit lighter, my steps are a little bit lighter and I feel more at ease. And it is rewarding and it truly is a worthwhile practice.
- Self-care – I hear a lot of people say that self-care is selfish. Although some might think that it is frivolous and trivial I think it is one of the most substantive decisions that I made because by choosing to pour love and compassion into ourselves we then make room to pour love and compassion into others. they say we can’t give what we don’t have so when we give ourselves that love we are in a better position to give love to others
- Meditation – is about focusing on your breath, practicing mindfulness, sitting in the silence of the moment, and appreciating the moment for what it is. Just listen to the rising and falling of your breath. At first, I just started it with two minutes, and then increased it to 5 and then to 10 munites. You know practice makes progress. Every time that I do it, I feel much lighter, much more at peace, grounded within myself, and centered.
Stacey believes that the first step in healing from psychological illness is to know and be informed about mental health. Even with her quick fixes, she pushes forward the importance of discussion and confidence in seeking professional medical help.
“Although the road towards my dream won’t be without its naysayers, it would not be without its trials. This here is a conversation, vulnerability, and open-heartedness; this is how we get there. This is a step towards the right path, towards the right direction, and I could not be luckier to embark on this journey with you. Hopefully, by talking about it more, openly, we can chip away at the injustices surrounding mental health, and chip away at the stigma”.
Aside from the tips that she gave and the medical services she had, she also shared how important a support system is for a mentally ill person. For her, it was her mom who was there beside her even during her most difficult times.
“I always tell my mom if there’s anything harder than having a mental illness, it is loving someone who has a mental illness because I saw her struggle, I saw her sacrifice and she suffered with me immensely. Seeing her daughter and feeling so helpless. She was in a trench with me and she felt my pain deeply. So whether you’re a mental health warrior or someone who loves a mental health warrior, I see you I believe in you and I’m proud of you for doing the best you can and I am holding your hand towards this journey to healing”.
Watch Araneta City’s World Mental Health Day Virtual Forum here, and listen to Stacey and other panelists as they talk about the importance of mental health: