The Sunshine Project: Interventions for the Soul

The Sunshine Project: Interventions for the Soul
by Feeona Jyllian Espiritu

To be honest, before writing this, I went on Spotify to listen to some of Linkin Park’s most popular songs. Hearing several of their most popular hits was a lot like a throw-back, because I was never really a fan of them, but I did like their music; mostly because it was so dark but also very relatable. Now, you might be wondering, “What does Linkin Park have to do with any of this?” Well it has more to do with their lead singer, Chester Bennington, who took his own life on the 20th of July 2017.

It’s sad to admit, but the darkness and relatability of their songs probably had something to do with the musician’s own personal experiences. So, it came to no surprise, that his death didn’t only affect his family, his bandmates, or his friends, but it also affected his fans; some of whom likely related to Linkin Park’s music.

And it just goes to show how deeply music can really touch people, and how humans can find love for people, even if they haven’t met them personally, that on 26th of August of the same year, in light of this loss, House 2 Productions hosted a series of concerts “Kasubo” as tribute to Bennington’s life and work. Not only that, but they also collaborated with the University of the Philippines Psychology Majors Association (UPPsyMA) to host The Sunshine Project: Interventions for the Soul, wherein they could raise mental health awareness, particularly relating to depression and suicide.

So, in line with that, they invited a guest speaker, Ms. Sherryl Muli-Abellanosa to talk about mental illness, specifically the symptoms of, and coping with depression. I wouldn’t say I’ve ever been or am depressed or suicidal, but I will admit, I’ve ideated about suicide, and maybe done a few things on purpose I knew weren’t safe; and I’ll also admit, that maybe to this day I still might (sometimes). But honestly, who hasn’t? I’m not saying that that’s ok, far from it, but I think that being able to talk about depression and suicide, even when you’re not depressed or suicidal should be ok. And that is what was so important about having that talk, because it helps people to understand depression and suicide better. It opens the floor to conversation about it.

There are also several ways one can cope with sadness or suicidal ideation, which can be through positive intervention, so, rather than simply talking about these coping strategies, UPPsyMA facilitated two positive interventions, namely, art therapy through a group mandala, and group music therapy. In fact, I and a couple of my friends were the one’s to facilitate the group mandala. As one of the facilitators of that particular activity, I found it very interesting how art can be made within a group dynamic. It was really nice seeing individuals, some of whom didn’t even know each other, to create a master piece that all of them were proud of. It especially touched my heart to hear in the debriefing how a lot of them enjoyed the activity and would consider doing It again.

Personally speaking, I much prefer art therapy, but that’s mostly because I don’t have a musical bone in me whatsoever. So, I wasn’t surprised when I didn’t quite enjoy the music therapy, especially since I would be a participant and not a facilitator, which as a psychology student I’m most used to being. I know I enjoyed some parts of it, but recalling it now, I can’t help but remember an overwhelming feeling of discomfort. However, that isn’t to say that music therapy doesn’t work, because I also remember a lot of people enjoying it. It even came to a point where it seemed like the activity wouldn’t, because it couldn’t, as people were enjoying it so much. And even though I myself didn’t particularly enjoy the experience, it was also very entertaining to see other people enjoy it.

My experiences during these two interventions may also show how other people might have felt during them as well; because I’m not saying music therapy doesn’t work, it just isn’t my preference. And that’s ok. In fact, I’m sure, that for some people they might have preferred the music therapy over the group mandala. And that’s ok too. With that, all in all, I think The Sunshine Project was a really good event. Not only because it was hosted at an appropriate time, but because not only was it able to open the floor to discussion on mental health, but it was also able to take action towards it by showing people ways to cope, and letting them decide which techniques would be useful for them.