Mental health is one of the most pressing concerns in the sphere of public health, not just globally but also locally. While conversations about it have been allowing more people to acknowledge and accept the urgency and relevance of the topic, there's still a long way to go to universally establish the fact that mental health is just as essential as physical health.
Mental health awareness has been especially relevant during the pandemic. Students found their regular lives upturned overnight all while being exposed to the stress of a looming health crisis. In an effort to help the student community cope with stress and manage emotions brought about by the distress they are experiencing, several mental health initiatives have been launched by various universities and organizations in the country.
From academic breaks to psychological services, here are 7 mental health initiatives for students in the Philippines:
Ateneo Bulatao Center's brief pyschological services
The Ateneo Bulatao Center for Psychological Services is the service arm of Ateneo de Manila University's Department of Psychology. They recently began offering brief psychological services for free for anyone, even non-students, who are looking to speak with responders. Although the service is not meant as a replacement for therapy, it aims to help individuals connect with a professional who can share coping strategies and emotion management skills through one or two sessions.
If you're interested, keep an eye out for registration announcements on their official Facebook page.
San Beda University's Health Break
In hopes of allowing students some time to "rest and recharge after midterm examinations," the San Beda Univesity announced a "health break" held on October 11, 2021 where no classes, synchronous and asynchronous alike, were held to give students the space to recuperate from academic stress.
Central Philippine University's Mental Health Day
Central Philippine University implemented a Mental Health Day for its undergraduate students during school year 2021-2022. Slated every Wednesday, teachers are instructed not to hold synchronous classes or require students to submit academic work (assignments, quizzes, and exams) on the said day. Non-academic programs and activities are also not allowed on the said day to provide students and teachers "much-needed rest from the grind of academic work."
DLSU's Care Desk
De La Salle University launched its Care Desk, a virtual hub which lists down existing services and programs catering to the needs of the La Sallian community. This includes mental health services, ranging from emergency first aid for students who need immediate psychological intervention, counseling services, and the OCCS Telemental Health Services which include webinars, literacy sources, and mindfulness tips.
You may browse through their available services here.
DepEd's OKKK! Tambayan (Online Kahusayan at Katatagan ng Kabataan)
Part of the Department of Education's efforts for mental health awareness is their OKKK! Tambayan (Online Kahusayan at Katatagan ng Kabataan), an online series for secondary learners tackling mental health concerns featuring student-panelists as well as experts. The series airs live every Saturday, 9 a.m., on DepEd's official Facebook and YouTube accounts.
BYS Philippines' Break Your Stigma
For its ninth anniversary, beauty brand BYS Philippines launched an advocacy platform in the form of BreakYourStigma.com. The brand partnered up with experts in the field, including Mindfulness, Love, and Compassion Institute for Psychosocial Services Inc. and Dr. Honey Carandang, licensed psychologist Gisa Paredes of Healing Minds, and Where To Next, to create an online hub and safe space for individuals to readily access mental health resources. The website provides an updated directory of mental health professionals all over the Philippines and will be releasing informative online resources through podcasts and other forms of easily accessible online content.
AMSA-Phil and UP MSSR's AKAP: Psychological First Aid Workshop
The UP Medical Students for Social Responsibility (UPMSSR) and the Asian Medical Students’ Association – Philippines (AMSA-Phil) launched AKAP: Psychological First Aid Workshop, an initiative which hopes to provide training in psychological first aid to medical students all over the Philippines. AKAP is a two-day workshop held in 2021 featuring a lecture discussing what psychological first aid is as well as an interactive application of it. To learn more about this initiative, you can watch this video.
If you or anyone you know is struggling with depression and suicidal thoughts, here are some important numbers and websites in the Philippines:
NCMH Crisis Hotline:
Globe/TM: 09178998727 / 09663514518
Center for Family Ministries (for spiritual counseling):
Landline: (02) 426-4289 to 92
Ateneo Bulatao Center
Landine: (02) 426-5982
Online resources for mental health and suicide prevention: