FriendlyCare Foundation, Inc. expands its network of service delivery providers for mental health and wellness of Filipinos with the first batch of selected mental health professionals who have been trained and certified in Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), a proven drug-free treatment for depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders. Joining Teresita Panganiban, President of FriendlyCare Foundation, Inc. (first from left) in the closing ceremonies of the three-month long project that culminated in a two-week MBCT intensive training, are Tita Ang-angco, Executive Director of the Centre for Mindfulness Studies (CMS), Vice Chancellor for Research and Development, Fidel Nemenzo, UP Diliman, Dr. Patricia Rockman, Director for Education of CMS, Chancellor Michael Tan, UP Diliman, Allison McLay and Tim Warner from CMS Team.

MANDALUYONG CITY, March 2018 — FriendlyCare Foundation, in association with the Centre for Mindfulness Studies of Toronto, Canada, has just completed the first accreditation program in the Philippines for the delivery of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT).

FriendlyCare’s first batch of mental health care professionals from University of the Philippines, Medical City, Makati Medical Center, Visayas Community Mental Health Center, the Department of Health, and the National Center for Mental Health who participated in a three-month-long MBCT Facilitation Certification, culminating in a two-week intensive training delivered by a team from the Centre for Mindfulness Studies. FriendlyCare now expands its access to treatment of common mental illness with its service delivery network of certified facilitators of the Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) program.

The Canadian team from the Centre for Mindfulness Studies delivered the two-week MBCT Facilitation Certification intensive training with the participation of mental health professionals from a wide variety of organizations, including the University of the Philippines, The Medical City, Makati Medical Center, Visayas Community Mental Health Center, the Department of Health, and the National Center for Mental Health.

This level of commitment reflects the substantial interest among mental health professionals in an important approach to drug-free treatment of depression, anxiety and other mood disorders. Together these disorders constitute about 90 percent of the incidence of mental illness in the Philippines.

This is a vital step in expanding the availability of mental illness treatment in the Philippines. MBCT is a form of group psychotherapy, that can extend the reach of an individual therapist more than ten-fold, and reduce the cost to an individual patient, as compared to conventional one-on-one psychotherapy.

Ms. Tita Ang-angco, Executive Director of the Centre for Mindfulness Studies, said “We anticipate continued strong interest in mindfulness-based approaches, particularly as the country responds to the Mental Health Act of 2017, and the World Health Organization’s Call to Action”.

Ms. Teresita D. Panganiban, President and CEO of FriendlyCare Foundation, said “We are delighted at the response of the community to this training opportunity, and the support of Chancellor Michael Tan of UP Diliman in helping make it possible. This is a key step in addressing the overwhelming need for affordable, accessible, quality treatment of mental illness.”

For more information about the MBCT Program you may contact FriendlyCare Foundation, Inc. at 722-2986, 722-2988 or 0916-3458928, or email

FriendlyCare Foundation, Inc.

FriendlyCare Foundation, Inc. is a primary health care delivery organization with a mission to provide affordable accessible quality reproductive and family health services in a friendly and compassionate manner. FriendlyCare operates clinics throughout the National Capital Region, and in Cebu, Tacloban, and Davao.

FriendlyCare has been working with the Center for Mindfulness Studies of Toronto, Canada for the last three years on plans to deliver high quality affordable and accessible treatment for mood disorders. The Foundation already provides mindfulness-based wellness and stress reduction programs to the corporate sector.

The recently completed training program is the first step in a broader strategy to catalyze the creation of a community of practice for MBCT in the Philippines, to develop a national training program for mental health professionals in mindfulness-based therapies, and to bring mindfulness-informed mental health treatment of mood disorders to a wider population, through both private and public channels.

Centre for Mindfulness Studies

The Centre for Mindfulness Studies, in Toronto, Canada, is Canada’s leading treatment and training organization in mindfulness-based therapies, with a particular emphasis on MBCT. The Centre was founded in 2011 by Filipino-Canadian Tita Angangco and Patricia Rockman MD. It delivers MBCT courses to about 2,000 clients per year, most suffering from moderate depression. The Centre is part of an international training network including Oxford University and Bangor University in the UK, and the University of California in San Diego. In 2015 the Centre was awarded a grant by Grand Challenges Canada to study how a new delivery modality for treatment of mood disorders might be established in the Philippines. This resulted in a research partnership with the Bulatao Center for Psychological Services at Ateneo, and a delivery partnership with FriendlyCare. The Centre contributed about 40 percent of the cost of this year’s training program in the Philippines.

Depression, anxiety and other mood disorders

Depression, anxiety and other mood disorders together account for 90 percent of the incidence of mental illness in the Philippines, but they are relatively invisible, and go largely untreated. Our scarce mental health resources are consumed almost entirely in the treatment of schizophrenia and other serious disorders that require periods of hospitalization and long-term drug treatment. In any case, for almost all Filipinos the cost of treatment for mood disorders (including drug treatment) would be prohibitive, even if it were available. The essential unavailability of treatment creates a huge burden for the many millions of Filipinos affected by mood disorders, and their families.

The Philippines is not alone. Except for a handful of rich countries, this is a universal problem, and the international community, under the rubric of Global Mental Health, and led by WHO, is actively seeking solutions. One promising approach is to deliver selected psychological treatments to groups rather than individuals. This dramatically changes the reach of a therapist, improving the availability of treatment.

Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) is a leading form of group psychotherapy. It has been proven in many research studies to be effective in the treatment of depression, anxiety, chronic pain, and addiction, as compared to other treatments, including drug therapy. MBCT is now recognized as a first-line treatment for depression in several jurisdictions. Until now it has not been available in the Philippines.