The State of Agoraphobia and Social Phobia in the Philippines

Team: Beatris Mariell Choo, Olivia Mae Marasigan, Elaine Jhon Panganiban, Ana Margarita Talicol

Social phobia is the fear of interacting with other people, while agoraphobia is the fear of situations where escape may be difficult, such as in crowded places. A leading cause of social phobia and agoraphobia in teenagers is bullying in schools. Like in many countries around the world, bullying is a major problem in schools in the Philippines. The Republic Act 10627, known as the Anti-Bullying Act of 2013, defines bullying as “any severe or repeated use by one or more students of a written, verbal or electronic expression, or a physical act or gesture, or any combination thereof, directed at another student”, and lists a number of specific acts such as punching, name calling, and cyber-bullying. Due to the intense bullying which causes social phobia, agoraphobia or other related mental disorders, some students in the Philippines have been known to stop their schooling when these disorders become more severe, and do not return to school until they no longer experience symptoms of these disorders. Unfortunately, these disorders have been known to be comorbid as seen in the analysis of Magee, Eaton, Wittchen, McGonagle and Kessler in 1996, and it is likely that a victim of similar emotional trauma be diagnosed with two or more of these disorders. In some students who have not yet completed treatment, depression and anxiety can be so severe that they cannot even visit their schools without experiencing panic attacks. Unfortunately, the Philippines lacks the technology and research that can be used to properly address these disorders in a context specific to the Filipino culture. While Filipinos are known for their caring nature and strong familial bonds, advances in the field of mental healthcare in the country will still be allow for more efficient and treatment of these disorders.

Virtual Reality (VR) is an 3D digital environment where user’s can perform interactions in the environment as though it was real life. Although VR has existed as early as the 1900’s, it is only now where VR devices are widely commercialized and accessible to the public. With the potential of these devices, developers have developed games wherein the user is in a fictional environment, yet only a handful have been developed for treatment of mental disorders, none of which are for social phobia and agoraphobia.

With the problem in mind and the capabilities and potential of VR devices, the team proposes an application that can aid in the treatment of agoraphobia and social phobia by letting the patient immerse themselves in a virtual world to interact with human-like characters in a school-like environment. This application focuses on the exposure therapy aspect of the treatment where the patient would be exposed to a virtual environment and will be given tasks to complete. This allows the patient to complete their therapy at home while the psychiatrist can review how the session went with the accompanying doctor’s tool.


Emergence (HIV Awareness App)

Team: Marco Hernando, Grace De Ramos, Miguel Ocampo, Dhanna Gail Colasito, Cyrille Dan Lazaga, Christopher Del Rosario, Aldrin Charles Ladaran, Amiel Jake Frias, Basil H Benitez 

Human Immunodeficiency Virus(HIV) is a virus that causes progressive failure of the immune system that allows life threatening infections and cancers to be easily acquired, While Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome(AIDS) is condition that replicates the same effects as HIV. Currently HIV is an incurable disease that a member of the genus Lentivirus.
The virus is mainly discovered in younger Filipinos aged 15-24, and Male having sex with male is the predominant transmission with 87% of the total new infections. Less than half of the individuals belonging to the most-at-risk population have no correct knowledge of basic HIV information. Currently the research on HIV includes all medical research that prevent, treat, or cure HIV/AIDS. After many years spent on research on HIV an untested HIV vaccine has been created, the vaccine prevents the entry into the somatic cells. The distribution of the positive cases in the Philippines is largely concentrated in the National Capital Region. At present, there are 15,035 people living with HIV (PLHIV) accessing treatment in 37 treatment and satellite hubs nationwide.

Knowing that currently HIV/AIDS is incurable the best way to address this disease is to prevent its unwanted spread among all ages and properly educated everyone who are considering the consequences are worth it. Right now the best solution to this problem is to spread the awareness and clear up all the negative stigma revolving around HIV/AIDS, with this action the rate of increase will be greatly decreased if followed correctly.

Emergence is the solution we made to counteract this problem of having misinformed people. There is a need for an intensified strategy both in health promotion and treatment services and our team believes that information technology is the answer. The goal of Emergence is to bridge the gap between HIV healthcare and the people who are at risk and who have contracted the disease already. The Emergence app can help the HIV and Sexually Transmitted Infection programs in the Philippines by mainly increasing awareness. People can know more about HIV and how it is transmitted by browsing the app anywhere – anytime. One can get instant HIV basic information, including risk assessment, just by a click of a button.


Hear I See (Dyslexia: Causes, Effects, and Possible Interventions)

Team: Anthony Grecia, Raphael Atento, Allen Paul Esperanza, Angelo Bones, Michael Francis Fernando, Maika Salvador, Enrico Usigan, Jason Luis Fungo

Dyslexia is a lifelong condition often characterized with the difficulty in reading, particularly with recognizing, decoding, or spelling words. It is generally due to the structural changes or differences of an individual’s brain. People with dyslexia mostly exhibit having difficulties in perceptual ability such as: perception of visual symbols, which causes reversing or omitting letters, letter-to-sound correspondence and correct sequencing of series of letters, which causes difficulties in spelling, and comprehension through sense of sight and hearing. It often manifests as early as in the preschool years, but is diagnosed certainly during the formal school years. Functional applications needed in daily living are potentially impaired but when given early intervention, people with dyslexia may be able to cope up with it.

With perceptual problems in mind, the team decided to create a gamified mobile application, Hear I See which is designed to help dyslexic children in coping up with their learning difficulty by improving the player’s perceptual skill in both auditory and visual aspects through engaging gameplay. The game focuses on targeting concerned skills related to reading and functionality, such as auditory and visual discrimination, auditory and visual sequential memory ability, visual spatial ability and auditory processing. The game is based off of two standardized tools which are currently being used by learning centers during therapy sessions for children with learning disabilities such as Dyslexia: The Test of Visual Perception Skills – Third Edition [TVPS-3] and Test of Auditory Processing Skills – Third Edition [TAPS-3], in which the game offers a free play mode which allows the child to play the game inside and outside therapy sessions. The child will then be reassessed after a period of time to note objective changes in their skills which the mobile application is able to do so through its evaluation mode, wherein the player’s game time and answer for each level will be saved and sent directly to the learning center’s email address to be compiled with the player’s medical record.