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Mental health awareness seminar held for faculty and staff
In line with the initiative of the UPLB Office of Student Affairs (OSA) to promote awareness on the psychological health concerns and provide intervention to address such issues, a seminar on nurturing mental health was conducted at the College of Development Communication (CDC) Graduate Room last April 10, 2017. Dr. Alexandra Jean Palis, in-house psychiatrist of the UPLB Health Service, served as resource person.
In organizing this activity, CDC hopes for its faculty and staff to become aware on how to better manage and deal with individuals, particularly students, dealing with mental health problems.
The seminar was coordinated by Dr. Mildred O. Moscoso.
Aside from the faculty members and staff, also present in the seminar was current CDC Student Council chairperson Marielle Chico, who share with the body her encounters with students who have mental health issues. In her narration, she mentioned the sentiments and experiences of these students --as related to her-- trying to manage their condition amidst the demands of university life. On the basis of her encounter with students undergoing emotional stress and clinical depression, she asked help from everyone, especially the professors, to not only make an effort to understand mental health disorder but also to encourage students to seek professional help.
With the students' experience as context, Dr. Palis introduced the basics concepts about mental health, such as the physiological processes involved during different emotional states. She also expounded on the concepts of mood and related conditions, such as depression, mania, and bipolar disorder. Later, she identified so-called red flags that may alert faculty members and other staffers dealing personally with students as to who among their students need help.
One course of action mentioned was referral for counseling, psychological testing, and guidance instruction program. All of these services are offered by the Counseling and Testing Division (CTD) of the OSA, as presented by division head Janet A. Dolor. CTD conducts regular activities geared toward helping UPLB students deal with personal issues during their stay in the university.
CDC faculty and staff expressed their appreciation of the activity. aProf. Kabzeel Sheba G. Catapang of the Department of Development Journalism said that she appreciated the advice of Dr. Palis for professors to show unconditional positive regard toward students with mental health issues and to extend emotional support without being permissive of their negative actions. "I have had three advisees who suffered from depression, and what Dr. Palis said gave me ideas on how to better handle a situation if a student would approach me. I hope we can have more of this activity so we can be better trained to deal with our students," she said.
For Ryan Jay G. Galang, University Research Associate II of the Development Broadcasting and Telecommunication, the seminar changed his perspective. "As someone who frequently interacts with students, it changed my perspective in dealing with them, specially those who have these concerns. It made me realize that issues on mental health should not be taken for granted," he added.
Some of the staff are not aware of the rising mental health concerns among students, according to Dante P. Ocampo of the Office of the College Secretary. "Narealize ko na serious na pala ang depression problem among CDC students," he said. He highly appreciated the seminar, especially the engaging approach of Dr. Palis and Ms. Dolor on the issues.
At the moment, the CDC is exploring the possibility of establishing a student welfare committee that will look into student concerns that are not addressed or are beyond the scope of the College Secretary's Office. The said committee will prioritize mental wellness and could also be in charge of developing and implementing programs to address student issues.