UP REPSS promotes mental health awareness at yearend gathering

A topic that has been gaining ground in both importance and recognition is the issue of mental health and wellness.

With this in mind, the UP Society of Research, Extension and Professional Staff, Inc. (UP REPSS) held a seminar on the topic entitled “Understanding the dimensions of wellness in the workplace: keeping a healthy perspective.

The seminar, held on Dec. 9 at the Agricultural Systems Institute Lecture Hall in time for UP REPSS’ 10th anniversary, aimed to draw attention to mental health as an aspect of holistic wellness that is as important as physical health.

Dr. Alexandra Jean Palis, a resident psychiatrist at the University Health Service, served as the resource person. She opened her talk with a mental health primer, giving recent statistics on mental health that truly drove home its prevalence in Filipino society and the necessity to raise awareness about it.

She then went on to discuss the concept of cognitive maturation, or how the mind develops from concrete to abstract thinking alongside developing the ability to draw logical conclusions.

Dr. Palis noted that failure to achieve proper cognitive maturation through lacking concrete experiences is a growing issue among the youth and may have an influence on the increasing instances of mental illnesses among them.

She proceeded to discuss about mental health in adults and the elderly. She noted that mental illness often manifests in adults in their mid-forties, or the so-called “mid-life crisis,” and later in life, during post-retirement age.

According to Dr. Palis, the primary issues that afflict adults are depression and anxiety, both as results of stress. She explained that when confronted with high stress situations, the brain reacts by suppressing the parts related to memory and higher function, and increasing the volume of parts related to emotion. Excessive stress would lead to impaired functions, causing anxiety and depression.

Dr. Palis concluded her talk by giving the symptoms to watch out for to identify depression and anxiety in individuals, as well as how to help and handle them, especially those with suicidal ideations. She stressed strongly that depression and other mental illnesses are treatable with medication and therapy.

Present during the seminar were Alicia Quicoy, president of UP REPSS, and Dr. Marish Madlangbayan, vice chancellor for planning and development.

Quicoy, a university researcher at the College of Economics and Management, emphasized the importance of mental health awareness, especially as a way of reaching out and helping others.

Dr. Madlangbayan, who read the message of Chancellor Fernando C. Sanchez, Jr., cited the importance of integrating mental health awareness in the UPLB campus not only for the students, but also for its workforce as part of the overall goal of creating an enabling environment in the campus.

 “Despite, or because we are adults, our own mental health must be something that we must be vigilant about,” he said. (Albert Geoffred B. Peralta)

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