The UPLB Office of Student Affairs (OSA) launched the first awareness campaign on depression and suicide prevention in the University by holding "HOPE: Health Orientation on Problems from Emotional Stress" on March 27 at the DL Umali Hall.
"Sana ang ating mga matututunan ngayong umaga ay mapakinabangan natin sa ating pakikisalamuha sa iba't-ibang mag-aaral, katrabaho, at mga kaibigan (I hope that what we will learn this morning will be useful in our interactions with students, co-workers, and friends)," Dr. Nina M. Cadiz, director of OSA, said in her opening remarks that was delivered by Katrina Joy M. Abriol-Santos, head of OSA's Communication and Information Technology and a faculty member at the Institute of Computer Science.
Three resource persons discussed mood disorders and suicide prevention from different perspectives. Msgr. Alex C. Amante, parish priest of the Diocese of San Pablo, explained the sanctity of life, and how suicide is contrary to the love of God, self, and neighbor. He said, however, that people should not judge those who have attempted to commit suicide. "We do not know the internal struggle that the person is experiencing," he added.
Dr. Alexandra Jean C. Palis, a psychiatric consultant at the University Health Service, cited the symptoms and red flags of various mood disorders. She also discussed suicide, suicide stressors, and non-suicidal self-injury. Among the tips Dr. Palis gave was on dealing with people who inflict non-suicidal self-injury. According to her, it is important to approach them in a supportive, non-judgmental way, putting into mind that such situation represents a distress or problem being experienced by the person.
The third speaker, Edwin Francis Gamboa, author of the book "Swung by a pendulum: on mood swings and bipolar reality," differentiated the brain cells of people who have and do not have bipolar disorder. According to him, the difference lies in the prevalence of neurotransmitters in the brain. He also expressed his hopes that UP can become a stigma-free, shame-free, and ignorant-free university when it comes to mental health disorders.
Pauline Malabanan, a BS Human Ecology student who was diagnosed with major depressive disorder, shared her testimony during the program. She told the participants how she was able to cope with depression by being open to her loved ones, finding an outlet for her depression, and seeking professional help. "Huwag tayong matakot sa doktor; huwag tayong matakot sa gamot; huwag tayong matakot sa stigma. Matakot tayo sa kung ano ang kayang gawin ng depression sa atin. (Let us not fear the doctor; let us not fear medicines; let us not fear the stigma. Let us fear what depression can do to us.)," she said.
An important question raised during the open forum that followed was on how to deal with people who have borderline personality disorder. Dr. Palis said that it is important to avoid disagreements and other situations that may trigger the disorder to flare up.
In the closing remarks, Janett A. Dolor, head of OSA's Counseling and Testing Division, encouraged the audience to make use of what they have learned during the orientation. "Share these insights with the people around you; put everything that you have learned into practice. You would be doingyour part in reaching out to others who are deeply in need of assistance," she said.
More than 500 students, faculty members, staff, and guests were present during the event. (Text and photo by Charlotte H. Hagosojos)