Hi! I'm Thea Tolentino. I am a preschool and music teacher who wants to bring music therapy to the Philippines as a more accessible form of mental health treatment
Accessible mental health treatment for Filipinos
Licensed Music Therapy Treatment via Certification from the Certification Board for Music Therapists
2 Years of Postgraduate Studies at the Masters of Music Therapy Program from the University of Melbourne
I write to seek your support in addressing the urgent need for mental health and behavioral therapy in the Philippines; via a scientific and accessible approach: MUSIC THERAPY. Allow me to explain the nature of my work and my decision to make this my mission.
PHOTO: Thea integrating music with learning at The Raya School
I worked in The Raya School Manila, a progressive school where students with special needs are included in regular classes. Through this teaching experience, I witnessed how music programs helped my students express themselves, alter their mood and behavior, and cope with daily school tasks. Since I began in 2012 and every school year thereafter, I realized that the rate of enrolees with mental health issues climbed at an alarming rate but the music programs were consistently effective .
Today, mental illness and suicide rates are rising rapidly among the youth in the Philippines. Over 3.3 million cases of depression were reported in the country based on the Department of Health's latest findings. Yet there are no available mental health interventions in our country aside from anti-depressants and regular visits to the psychiatrist; both of which are too expensive for the average Filipino. This is especially alarming for me because there are people who need mental healthcare among my friends, family, colleagues and students. Most likely, you share the same story. This made me realize the urgent need to bring alternative and accessible mental health treatments to schools and health centers.
My education and experience pointed to Music Therapy, one of the many evidence-based approaches to mental health treatment. It is a professional practice that uses musical interventions (listening, singing, performing, creating music) to help people reach their therapeutic goals.I firmly believe that music is an untapped resource that has the power to help people on a larger scale. Most especially with Filipinos, because we have a very personal relationship with music.
PHOTO: Thea giving a pro bono ukulele workshop to breast cancer patients and survivors at her Believe Uke Can workshop, 2019
BLAZING THE TRAIL
Since there are no practicing licensed music therapists in the Philippines, I decided to blaze the trail. I applied for and got accepted to the Master of Music Therapy program at the University of Melbourne’s Conservatory of Music. I am the first Filipino to be accepted in this highly-specialized program. This will enable me to take the Music Therapy Board Exam of the Certification Board for Music Therapists which will then earn me the license to practice as a the first board-certified music therapist in the Philippines.
I am the first Filipino to be accepted in this highly-specialized program. This will enable me to take the Music Therapy Board Exam of the Certification Board for Music Therapists which will then earn me the license to practice as a the first board-certified music therapist in the Philippines.
BRINGING IT HOME
I commit to return to the Philippines and launch music therapy programs to support mental health. I have designed a plan that unfolds into several phases. One will address individualized music therapy needs, focusing on students diagnosed with stress, anxiety and depression. Another one is to create a curriculum that will provide teachers with music therapy foundations which they can apply in their own contexts. And finally, one that will equip public school teachers and healthcare workers with the knowledge and tools to embed music therapy programs in school systems and local health centers. All this in an effort to make music therapy interventions free and accessible to people in underserved communities. I will also conduct symposiums and workshops to transfer knowledge, tools, and skills to medical practitioners, teachers, caregivers, and musicians.
All this in an effort to make music therapy interventions free and accessible to people in underserved communities.
PHOTO: Thea teaching guitar to residents of GK Matandang Balara-Laura community, an underprivileged community in Quezon City, 2008
HOW YOU CAN SUPPORT MUSIC THERAPY FOR FILIPINOS
To achieve this goal, I am seeking educational donors. I have approached numerous foundations, politicians and organizations but unfortunately none of them are ready to help me at this moment. I think this further emphasizes the need to regard alternative mental health treatment as an urgent and deeply important matter. So I am asking those of you who understand or can relate to my experience to pitch in. I have used up my savings and asked for financial help from family but still have a lot of expenses to cover.
The Masters of Music Therapy program tuition for two years costs AUD$ 69,077 (US$ 48,000). On top of this, I have educational expenses (books, instruments, other required tools), flight expenses, housing and day-to-day living costs. I am raising funds for at least the first year I plan to live the most modest way possible and take a side job to raise more money but for now, any substantial amount you contribute will be very valuable and appreciated.
Apart from my plans on giving back to the country through service and the transfer of knowledge, I am also open for collaborations and partnerships. If your organization/foundation has any program in line with my advocacy, I will be more than happy to discuss and organize with you in exchange for your generosity.
Please feel free to reach out to me if you would like more clarification or specific information about my fundraising efforts.
For those without a Paypal account, you may wire your donations to any of the bank details below:
BPI FAMILY BANK (savings account)
Account Name: Althea Danielle Tolentino
Account Number: 6856-154-708
LANDBANK (savings account)
Account Name: Althea Danielle P. Tolentino
Account Number: 3076-1127-10
From the bottom of my heart, thank you for your kindness.