The University of Santo Tomas Research Center on Social Sciences and Education (RCSSED) received funding from Department of Science and Technology – Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (DOST-PCHRD) for its National Youth Mental Health Project.
The research work, titled “Mapping of the Socio-Cultural Factors and Determinants Associated with Depression, Anxiety, Self-Harm, and Suicidal Behavior among University Students,” officially began on June 20, 2021, and is expected to run for two years.
Vice-Rector for Research and Innovation Prof. Maribel G. Nonato, Ph.D., represented UST while faculty researcher Assoc. Prof. Maria Carinnes P. Alejandria led the project team. Part of the team are collaborators from various universities nationwide, such as the University of Santo Tomas – Legazpi, University of the Philippines Visayas, Saint Louis University, Mindanao State University – Iligan Institute of Technology, and Palawan State University.
A longstanding issue in mental health studies is its inability to address the widening gap in theoretical approach and the lived experiences of individuals who are coming from varying socio-cultural landscapes. Mental health has also been a concern within the academe and the rest of the country since college students are one of the most affected populations that experience mental health challenges.
The National Mental Health Project will identify the socio-cultural contexts that exacerbate the vulnerability of students who are experiencing mental health issues and struggles in their daily lives. Part of its general objective is to explore the socio-cultural determinants of mental health illness (MHI) among enrolled university students.
The first two quarters of the project focused on data collection within UST and the collaborating external academic institutions, which primarily includes college students, faculty members, and administrators as participants of the study.
Currently, all collaborating universities have almost finished with the data collection phase. Since the data collection involved personal and sensitive matters related to mental health experiences, an interactive lecture led by an expert, Ms. Marian Lagundino, a UST Guidance Counsellor assigned to the College of Tourism and Hospitality Management, was conducted to provide support and assistance to the project team’s mental health and well-being.
Before the year ends, the project team will release its preliminary findings gathered from the University of Santo Tomas. The papers will focus on information related to students’ mental health experiences at home and in the community. A policy review that highlights the different mental health policies in the country affecting students will also be released.