A chat with the founder of Pana, PH’s first mental health subscription box

Gil Cadiz

Stephenie Grace Andin, a third-year medical student at Far Eastern University-Nicanor Reyes Medical Foundation Institute of Medicine, conceptualized Pana after an emotionally challenging holiday season in 2017. It took so long for her to get out of that phase where she didn’t want to do anything. She wouldn’t go to class, wouldn’t get out of bed, wouldn’t eat, and wouldn’t even shower.

She found solace in online shopping and waiting for the packages to arrive. The little excitement that she got from waiting and opening the packages that she ordered provided the little happiness that kept her functioning. She wanted to provide her subscribers that. She wanted to give them something to look forward to.

Depression is a condition traversing all mental illnesses, and if you have one case, it follows that you will have a higher probability of getting depressed, too. She wanted to prevent episodes of people hurting themselves by providing the joy of receiving a box of the things they like. She simply wanted to give them that kind of excitement.

“I took up BS Elementary Education. It was peculiar when I thought I knew what I wanted, the Lord directed my path to…

تم النشر بواسطة ‏‎Millennials of Manila‎‏ في الخميس، ٢٥ أكتوبر ٢٠١٨

We the Pvblic
reached out to Stephenie for some Q&A. Read on to know more about the country’s first mental health subscription box – how it can help you or someone else you know.

1. Tell us about Pana.

Pana is a monthly subscription of things that are of the subscriber’s preference. Basically, they get to tell us what they want to see in their box. It’s mainly what excites them as Pana aims to give them something to look forward to.

Pana’s target audience are people suffering from mental health illness across all ages.

Pana also does its share in promoting mental health awareness. We’re now conducting this new series called The Palaso Project and it features real people with real problems and solutions. It shares their journey and their advice to those suffering the same.

2. How much are the subscription fees and what exactly will the subscribers get?

The subscription is P1,799 for 1 month, P3,300 for 2 months, and P4,500 for 3 months. All subscribers will get back all that they paid for in the box since Pana is non-profit. My bank account is a witness to how Pana does not earn money from the boxes. Up until now, I’m still in debt from the first few boxes Pana sent out on its first month, but it doesn’t matter for me kasi Pana is my baby. It’s a service of love celebrated with other people.

3. Where and how do they subscribe?

The subscription is made through a Google survey we release each month and the payment is via bank transfer to BDO or PayPal.

4. What do you hope to achieve with Pana?

My aimed victories in Pana are small. I just want to save the lives of those who ask for help. I want to give hope and inspiration to those who are struggling in the dark.

5. What do subscribers tell you about their experience of receiving Pana boxes?

I can’t clearly remember how I found out about Pana, but I believe it’s because of Ate Steph, its founder who was just a Facebook friend-turned-one of my rocks. Trust me, even just the google forms for the month’s box theme will give the comfort one needs or maybe a little of it. The questions like “When was your last attack?”, “What triggered?” and “How can we make you feel better?” that I never heard from anyone reassured me that there is actually someone willing to listen. It felt like I was actually talking to someone – opening up without hesitation and judgments after.  I found comfort and understanding. Also, the anticipation for the boxes gave me excitement which I rarely experience since my diagnosis; plus, plus, plus, Pana’s notes – that may be simple, but it comes with great impact! The boxes aren’t just boxes for me; they are boxes of efforts, love of and for life and hope. Pana is a daily reminder that I am, was not, and will never be alone.” – Aimee Ragsac, Pana subscriber since July 2018

6. What are your thoughts on the passing of the mental health bill?

Personally, I think this is an answered prayer for those suffering from mental illness. The bill gives emphasis on the patient’s rights and promotes prevention and awareness in the local community. It not only prepares the community to assist people with mental illness, it also entails proper training of medical practitioners to better diagnose and treat patients.

7. What’s your message to your fellow millennials who are dealing with mental health conditions?

We millennials are not afraid to speak our mind. I suggest putting that to better use. If you are suffering, the first step is to voice out and accept help. If you’re not, we can all do our part to promote awareness. For me, if I were to advise someone personally, I would suggest that they surround themselves with people who will help them grow. I said “grow” not “be comfortable” because there are situations in life that even people suffering with mental illness need to deal with. Choose the people who will help you heal faster.

Follow Pana on Facebook and on Instagram @paaabutin.
You may also email your inquiries to [email protected].

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