Filipino film student bags gold in NY indie fest

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — For a 19-year-old filmmaker, the craft is more than reading scripts and combining frames: it is a form of "immersion."

The goal of New York Film Academy student Race Matias, who is also the son of Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista, in his short film "Like Father, Like Son," is to make people aware of depression.

"Some people always dismiss depression as all just in your head. Like, you know you're stronger than this, you don't have to worry about it, you don't have to go to therapy for that and I'm like, no. This is a real thing," Matias said in an interview with CNN Philippines on Thursday.

Indeed, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that in 2016, 350 million people worldwide have depression, making it the most prevalent mental illness. If untreated, the illness can lead to suicide.

There are around 800,000 suicide cases every year worldwide. The Philippines has a suicide rate of 2.5 and 1.7 per 100,000 population, according to the 2013 data from the National Center for Mental Health (NCMH).

Due to lack of facilities and health care providers, as well as the social stigma associated with mental illnesses, some people are often misdiagnosed, or even opt out of treatment.

There are at least four bills in the Senate which aim to enhance mental health services in the country: Senate Bill 9 or the Philippine Mental Health Act of 2016 by Sen. Vicente Sotto III, SB 415 and SB 1155, both titled the Philippine Mental Health Act filed by Sen. Loren Legarda and Sen. Juan Edgardo Angara, respectively, and lastly, SB 1190 or the Mental Health Act of 2016 by Sen. Risa Hontiveros.

Matias said he hopes the film, which won gold in last year's NYC Indie Film Awards, will show the magnitude of depression.

"Filmmaking, storytelling, if you do it right, is probably one of the most immersive things that you can make anyone can go through," he said.