Approximately 700 Evangelical Christians from all over the Philippines attended the Community Bible Study International (CBSI) Code Red Conference in Cebu City in July 2023. CBSI’s objective for the conference was to equip church leaders with knowledge and tools to help reconnect the younger generation with the Gospel after the effects of the pandemic. Restore Children and Family Services (RCFS) founders and directors, Attorney Mark Anthony Del Mundo and Mrs. Mae Sampani-Del Mundo, and the clinical program manager, Denise Angelica Mel, were speakers at the conference. The conference provided RCFS an avenue to present the grim realities of the mental health crisis and its connection to childhood trauma – a subject matter that is slowly gaining acceptance in the secular Filipino society but is still considered a taboo in most, if not all, Christian circles of the country.
Atty. Mark Anthony Del Mundo, a plenary speaker, underscored the significant role of the modern church in putting an end to mental health stigma and becoming a conduit of Jesus Christ’s light and hope for lives that are mired in brokenness, pain and hopelessness. Some participants after the plenary admitted that the topic resonated with them personally, especially after Atty. Del Mundo shared his personal journey of healing from childhood trauma and as an adult who experienced work related trauma (such as death threats) while he was a prosecutor of child sex trafficking cases.
Mrs. Mae Sampani-Del Mundo hosted a highly attended workshop which focused on the long-term biological effects of psychosocial trauma or adversity. Mrs. Del Mundo’s workshop, which had the greatest number of participants among the seven breakout sessions, brought a deeper understanding of trauma’s manifestation on the mind and body which help them understand that mental health problems require medical and professional and that it is not just a spiritual issue. A participant in her 20s expressed that the messages delivered by RCFS leaders is what the younger generation of Christ’s followers need to hear. Listening to the information and stories made her felt heard and her struggles validated. The Code Red Conference provided RCFS the opportunity to advocate for the welfare of people suffering from depression, anxiety, and mental health issues, and inspire the Christian community to become involved.