How to Prepare for Your First Therapy Session

It’s understandable to feel a little nervous before your first session. Even so, there are proactive steps that you can take that will dually alleviate some of your nerves, but also help make the first session with your mental health professional, productive and insightful.

Be proud of your decision. First and foremost, give yourself a pat on the back for having the courage to seek professional help. You are choosing to put yourself and your mental well-being first, and you understand that vulnerability is not a weakness, but a strength.

Set time aside for self-reflection before and after your session. Giving yourself some time before your session gives you the opportunity to collect your thoughts and clear your mind. After a session, it is always important to reflect on what has been said to ensure you process and absorb the information imparted to you.

Take down notes. Write down what you hope to achieve, or questions you have regarding confidentiality, the process of therapy and your therapist’s counseling style. You can write about significant life events and how they have affected you, your current circumstances and coping mechanisms you employ at the moment. Taking some time to do this allows you to organise your thoughts and helps make your session more productive.

Think about what your objectives are, and communicate these to your psychologist. What do you want to achieve from attending therapy?

“I would like to eventually overcome my anxiety.”
“I want to learn how to set boundaries in my personal and professional relationships.”
“I want to learn better coping mechanisms to deal with the stresses of my life.”
“I would like someone to help me process my trauma so that I can aim to live a life free of fear.”

If you’re unsure about your goals, that’s okay, too. Finding clarity in this regard is part of what therapy can offer you.

Manage your expectations. This session is the first opportunity that your psychologist has to get to know you better. From here, they can begin painting a picture of your circumstances, goals, and areas in your life that you would like to see improvement in. Painting a full, comprehensive picture will take some time. The average therapy course typically lasts about 3-4 months, according to the American Psychological Association. Trust in yourself and the process, and understand that change takes time.

Allow yourself to be vulnerable. You have taken a huge step agreeing to attend your first session – how your mental wellness journey progresses is up to you. You are letting your therapist into your inner world so that they can help you, not so that they can point out your flaws and make you feel ashamed over your perceived shortcomings. That said, it is completely normal to experience good emotions, bad ones, and conflicting ones, too. Just as is in life, therapy is a process and a journey. Ultimately, it is from the acknowledgement, exploration and processing of these emotions that help you come closer to finding your authentic, happier and healthier self.

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Mind You aims to transform our culture and empower people to take control of their mental health and live more fulfilled lives. We take pride in lifting away the stigma, lowering counseling costs and providing increased access to mental health care for all Filipinos.

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Business & Mental Health

Mind You represents the Philippines in the ASEAN-Australia Mental Health Civil Society Cooperation Event

Mind You joins others and sets the example for “sharing is caring”

Last Wednesday, November 17, Mind You’s Head of Sales Anna Roxas and Marketing Communications Manager Sandra Oledan Rodriguez were invited to the ASEAN-Australia Mental Health Civil Society Cooperation Event as the representative delegates for the Philippines.

The event was hosted by Australia and Brunei, the ASEAN Chair, with the goal of increasing cooperation on mental health and to build the capacity of ASEAN member states to address mental health concerns, which have been exacerbated or created by the ongoing pandemic. There is a mutual understanding that in order for the mental healthcare industry to thrive, we must optimise our resources through information-sharing and collaboration.

The program commenced with presentations from Australia, Brunei and Malaysia’s Civil Society Organisations (CSOs): Professor Patrick McGorry, Executive Director of Orygen, discussed the challenge of reaching vulnerable groups and demographics, and linking people with mental ill-health to support.

Dr. Andrew Mohanraj Chandrasekaran, President of the Malaysia Mental Health Association, spoke next on how to utilise technology to expand reach. He pointed out the value of mental health apps with features like passive symptom tracking. For instance, a mobile device that can detect the number of times messages are sent, vocal tone during calls, and gather data to conclude whether a mental health professional needs to be alerted. However, there are some limitations that need to be considered. The uptake of these apps are unlikely to extend beyond urban areas. Additionally, such apps may encourage users to adopt a simplistic view of mental health conditions; a belief that this app can simply ‘solve’ what turns out to be a very serious mental health problem. We must also consider the regulation that is needed for mental health technologies, and whether developing countries such as the Philippines are ready to accommodate that level of monitoring and enforcement.

Ms. Hajah Noara, Founder of Cureheart, elaborated on the prevalence of stigmas and gave examples on the misconceptions most common in Brunei, which we found bore striking similarities to the preconceived notions surrounding mental health in the Philippines.

To end the round of presentations was Katherine Newton, CEO of R U OK? Australia, where she emphasised the importance of marrying a top-down and bottom-up approach: formal care such as access to therapy sessions combined with more informal care methods such as mental health tool kits and social media campaigns are necessary to thoroughly transform mental health at every level in society.

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The main group was then split into breakout rooms to discuss the following topics:

  • Raising public awareness of mental health issues and changing community attitudes
  • Linking people with mental health conditions to support services, and
  • Using technology to expand the reach of mental health CSOs.

The topics built on the presentations, and initiated interesting discourse between the delegates. While the conversations were diverse in content, similar points were highlighted: namely, the importance of multi-sectoral collaboration and the prevalence of cultural and religious stigmas and socio-economic barriers. Additionally, delegates spoke about the unique challenge of our advocacy: our target audience is, effectively, everyone, which means a lot of time and due diligence needs to go into crafting the message we send out to the world. We are not simply selling a product or service; we are teaching to empower and inspire in the hopes that people will make changes in their lives and pass it on.

Ultimately, it is our responsibility to not only raise public awareness on mental health issues, but bridge the gap between awareness and action. It was clear that the delegates kept this at the forefront of their strategies when executing their respective initiatives and programs. For instance, R U OK? creates conversational tool kits to educate people on how to speak about mental health with their loved ones, using easy-to-follow steps and visually engaging images. Thailand’s representative, Dr. Varoth Chotpitayasunondh, spokesperson for the Department of Health and child and adolescent psychiatrist, addressed that mental health challenges are being effectively addressed at a community level via their Village Health Volunteer program: a representative is assigned per community, and it lowers the barrier to initiate conversations with them because he or is she is already someone the individual knows, and the volunteer is also accustomed to the language and culture of the specific community.

While there is still a lot of work to be done, we are hopeful in our objective of achieving intergenerational transformation – not just for the Philippines, but across all of our nations. One of Mind You’s main highlights this year was our inaugural National Mental Health Summit, which invited key decision makers, members of government and mental health advocates to discuss the state of mental health in the Philippines and the action steps needed to effect long-lasting change. Speakers included the author of the Mental Health Act, Senator Risa Hontiveros, Chief Health Program Officer of the Department of Health, Frances Cuevas, and sports psychologist of Olympic Gold Medal winner Hidilyn Diaz, Karen Trinidad. The event was a success, reaching over 80,000 people across the country and internationally. It is by creating spaces like these that facilitate the much-needed conversations we need to have surrounding mental health.

[From left to right] Miguel Valdez, Head of Operations at Mind You and CEO of Vanguard Assessments; Dr. Dinah Palmera Nadera, Medical Specialist and Project Leader; Rea Celine Villa, Senior Psychologist at Mind You; Michael J. Needham, Co-Founder & Chief Strategy Officer at Mind You during the Summit panel discussion.

On this note, we would like to thank ASEAN, and the Australian and Bruneian governments for providing a platform for collaboration to take place beyond the national level. We look forward to connecting with the CSO participants soon!

Mind You aims to transform our culture and empower people to take control of their mental health and live more fulfilled lives. We take pride in lifting away the stigma, lowering counseling costs and providing increased access to mental health care for all Filipinos.

Follow us on our social media pages, on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter & LinkedIn @mindyoumhs.

Business & Mental Health

International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day: How We Can Become Beacons of Self-Compassion and Support

International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day: How We Can Become Beacons of Self-Compassion and Support


International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day is a day that allows people that have lost someone to suicide to gather together to share their memories, struggles and journey to rediscovering hope after loss. This special day finds its roots in the United States of America, when Senator Harry Reid lost his father to suicide in 1999. This led him to establish Senate Resolution 99, which officially designated the Saturday before Thanksgiving as the chosen day for awareness.

In the Philippines, much stigma surrounds the topic of mental health, with suicide being no exception. This is largely due to the traditional norms of a predominantly Catholic nation, with the perception that suicide is a grave sin against God. These opinions however cannot deny the prevalence of suicide in the country, further exacerbated by the ongoing pandemic: the latest figures from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) released in July 2021 showed that death caused by self-harm increased in 2020 by 57% compared to 2019.

There are a few simple yet helpful ways you can practice self-compassion as you go through this intense and complicated grieving process. Understand that there is no timeline for grief. While it is good to open up, don’t feel obliged to be vulnerable before you are ready. You can start by writing down how you feel in a journal. This activity can help you acknowledge and process your emotions better. When the time comes that you decide to share your thoughts and feelings, confide in people you trust and feel you can speak to in a non-judgmental space.

If you have not had to experience losing someone to suicide, there are still ways we can extend our hands in support of these survivors. Show your support by validating their feelings: you can say something like, “I know this is a very difficult time for you, and I am really sorry for your loss. But I admire that you are finding a way to get through this process, and I want you to know that I’ll be here for you when things get difficult.” When someone is going through something as painful as grief, they may feel disoriented and out of balance in their day-to-day responsibilities. Offer a helping hand to help them accomplish simple tasks. You may also direct them towards grief counsellors or psychologists that can offer professional support and provide your loved one with healthy coping mechanisms. Always bear in mind that grief takes time and loss can change people, so we must learn to understand, empathize and respect every unique journey.

For the survivors of suicide loss, the team at Mind You prays that you find peace and enlightenment, while still being able to cherish the memories of your loved ones that have passed. It is one thing to lose someone in a lifetime, but quite another to lose a loved one in this way, and to be unable to speak about it openly due to the stigma that surrounds suicide in the country. Brene Brown once said: “When you shut down vulnerability, you shut down opportunity.” There is so much more to be gained in a country that openly speaks about struggles because in that recognition and vulnerability, knowledge and strength can sprout.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, please direct them these free-to-call and anonymous help hotlines:

In Touch Philippines
+63 2 8893 7603
+63 917 800 1123
+63 922 893 8944

National Centre for Mental Health Crisis Hotlines
Luzon-wide Landline Toll Free: 1553
0917-899-8727 (USAP)
7-989 8727 (USAP)

Mind You aims to transform our culture and empower people to take control of their mental health and live more fulfilled lives. We take pride in lifting away the stigma, lowering counseling costs and providing increased access to mental health care for all Filipinos.

For bite-sized versions of our blog posts, follow us on our social media pages, on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter & LinkedIn @mindyoumhs.

Business & Mental Health

Our Just Cause/s

Our Just Cause/s

  • Phase out stigma towards mental health;
  • Increase affordability of mental health services;
  • Increase accessibility of mental health services;
  • Improve professional compensation and working environment.

"A Just Cause is linked to our WHY, our noble purpose for being. Our WHY comes from our past—it is our origin story and it is who we are. Our Just Cause is our WHY projected into the future. It describes a future state in which our WHY has been realized. It is a forward looking statement that is so inspiring and compelling that people are willing to sacrifice to see that vision advanced.”

– Simon Sinek, Author of Start With Why.

The responsibility of business is to use its will and resources to advance a cause greater than itself, protect the people and places in which it operates and generate more resources so that it can continue doing all those things for as long as possible. An organisation can do whatever it likes to build its business so long as it is responsible for the consequences of its actions.

To build this into Mind You, our foundation is looking 100 years into the future (to begin with). We expect to achieve growth, so we have the ability to serve millions more around the world, although sometimes it is important to strategically slow the rate of growth. This is to help ensure the security of the long-term or simply to ensure the organisation is properly equipped to withstand the additional pressures that come with high-pace growth. A fast growing retail operation, for example, may choose to slow the store expansion schedule in order to put more resources into training and development of staff and store managers. Opening stores is not what makes a company successful; having those stores operate well is. It’s in a company’s interest to get things done right now rather than wait to deal with the problems high-pace growth can cause later. The art of good leadership is the ability to look beyond the growth plan and the willingness to act prudently when something is not ready or not right, even if it means slowing things down.

In 2018, Larry Fink, the Founder, Chairman and CEO of Blackrock Inc, caused a bit of a stir in the financial industry when he wrote an open letter to CEO’s titled “a sense of purpose”. In the letter he urged leaders to build their companies with more idealistic goals than near-term financial gains. “Without a sense of purpose,” he explained, “no company, either private or public, can achieve its full potential. It will ultimately lose the license to operate from key stakeholders. It will succumb to short-term pressures to distribute earnings, and, in the process, sacrifice investments in employee development, innovation and capital expenditures that are necessary for long-term growth.”

We also see our investors and employees as owners. This is a long-term infinite mission we are working towards together, thus our owners must participate in the mission to their full-extent. Our investors and employees are onboarded with the same level of passion that our executive team has instilled. Passion comes from the latin word Patior, which means to suffer, to persevere through pain in order to achieve something greater than yourself. In the words of the late great Steve Jobs, “you have to have a lot of passion for what you are doing because it is so hard… if you don’t, any rational person would give up.”

For example, in this day and age where people are treated as data points and an inconvenience to support from companies all over the world, Mind You prides itself on not conflating our Users with data points. The people we serve are blood and bone, human-beings so we ensure their valuable data points are only used to improve the experience of the user, help them, consolidate and report so we and others can learn how to create products and services to better serve. We simply will never justify anything else. Our human approach is balancing technology and professionals to better serve communities and increase support and affordability for our beloved Users.

Our just cause is worth pursuing even if it results in an extra cost of doing business. Fulfilling one’s legal responsibilities does not release a company from its ethical responsibilities. Mind You is not a social company; we’re a company with unwavering ethics and morals at our core. We are a growing company with a just cause that necessitates longevity in business to create the positive impact we’re here to achieve. The test of our sincerity will be only to build long-term solutions for people hurting or wanting to improve. While there is much more to do, we commit to producing products and services that align with our mission of helping people become happier, healthier and more productive, because they deserve it. We hope our users, owners and clients embody these principals so we can change the landscape of mental health, together.

*This includes extracts from Simon Sinek’s book, The Infinite Game.

Cameron Quin

Vice President and COO