Photo by: LB Times
UHS and OCG team up to “RACE Against Suicide”

In line with promoting and protecting the mental health of the UPLB community, the University Health Service (UHS) and the Office of Counseling and Guidance (OCG), in partnership with the Philippine Guidance and Counseling Association (PGCA), Inc. – Laguna Chapter, organized a seminar-training on suicide prevention at the Obdulia F. Sison Hall on March 13.

UPLB convened its medical practitioners, guidance specialists, security officers, Gender Center staff, college secretaries, and faculty members to participate in the learning event.

Participants were trained in “recognizing signs of distress, asking and assessing risk levels, communicating effectively, and engaging (RACE)” to assist those needing professional help and prevent suicide in a school setting.

In his welcome message, Chancellor Jose V. Camacho, Jr. acknowledged the participants’ significant role as first responders and challenged them to take on the active responsibility of being gatekeepers who will promote and protect the mental well-being of university constituents.

Meanwhile, UHS Medical Director Jessie Imelda F. Walde thanked the participants and discussed the learning objectives. She stressed the importance of capacitating UPLB’s pool of frontliners, given the scarcity of mental health professionals, especially in academic institutions. 

UHS psychiatrist Alexandra Jean C. Palis, on the other hand, shared a glimpse of the mental health situation in UPLB to contextualize the activity.

With the support from the Unilab Foundation, the PGCA – Laguna Chapter, led by their president, Ann Resheir G. Bayugo, and members Dr. Dianne L. Fernandez, Dr. Maria Theresa B. Gallardo, and April Joy P. Cruz, shared their expertise on proper identification, assessment, intervention, and referral of those who are dealing with mental health issues.

As a culminating activity, the participants were tasked to simulate a case, facilitated by OCG Director Jiselle C. Villamin, to test if they had learned from the training.

In his closing message, Vice Chancellor for Community Affairs Roberto P. Cereno thanked PGCA – Laguna Chapter for extending their support to UPLB. Cereno highlighted the crucial role of the university in protecting its constituents, especially given the increasing attention to mental health worldwide.

The RACE Against Suicide training seminar is among the activities under the UPLB Safety, Health, and Intra-community Engagements for Lifesaving Defense (SHIELD). As one of the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Community Affairs’ flagship programs, UPLB SHIELD seeks to proactively mitigate the impacts of public health concerns within the community. (Maria Cristina W. Zafaralla and Roi Mojado)

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