Incoming Rotary governor thrusts include mental health

Rotary International District 3850 holds a District Conference in Boracay Island, Malay, Aklan on March 22-25. (Contributed photo)
Rotary International District 3850 holds a District Conference in Boracay Island, Malay, Aklan on March 22-25. (Contributed photo)

ROTARY International District 3850 Incoming Governor Maria Ester Espina said that among the major thrusts for the coming Rotary year is mental health, as she saw an escalation of mental health cases when the world went on lockdown during the pandemic.

"When RI President-Elect Gordon McInally announced that this will be among his focus, I was actually elated as this issue has been discussed as a crucial societal issue that needs to be addressed, not just by Rotary, but by governments. This may become the next pandemic if left unattended, with the World Health Organization reporting that over 700,000 deaths a year are caused by suicide and over 280 million people suffer from depression worldwide," she said.

It is also more personal to Gordon as he lost his brother Ian to suicide while at his prime, leaving behind a wife, two kids, and a successful career envied by many.

The whys will never be answered, and some will never have closure in their lives.

Espina shared, "I can imagine the toll it took on the families of more than 6.87 million who lost their lives battling Covid-19. I am one of them, as I lost a brother at the height of the pandemic. I come from a big family of 11 children, and with extended families and friends, funerals are a huge thing. When my mom passed away, we had over 2,000 people comforting us in our grief as we sent her to her final resting place."

She added, "But when we lost our eldest brother, Nonoy, we were only allowed to have hours with him before he was cremated. My brother was quite popular, and his death landed in the national papers, but the only comfort came from the virtual tributes that were held after his funeral which was the worst part because we had to ask permission from the city government, which allowed only 10 of us siblings, including his wife and two kids, to bury him."

She also said, "It was really so sad and depressing, but whenever someone asked me how I was getting by, I always replied that I’m okay. How else can you reply to such a question? It was actually Gordon who opened my eyes that, in fact, it is okay to not be okay and that we need to erase the stigma of asking for help. It is not anymore enough to ask someone, ‘How are you? but to ask, ‘How are you, really?’"

"And that, my friends, is what we should start asking each other because, as Gordon said, while we take care of the well-being of the communities we serve, it is very important to start first with the well-being of our members, of fellow Rotarians, and their families," she said.

Moreover, she found a Broadway song that will be the theme for the mental health advocacy.

It’s from the musical, Dear Evan Hansen, entitled "You Will Be Found."*


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