UB Brings Batanguenos Together for Inaugural Mental Health Summit, PRB-GC, PGCA, PMHA, Unilab-Lingap Diwa pledge unity to Take Action 

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The University of Batangas (UB), through its Counseling and Psychological Wellness Center (CoPWell), marked a significant step toward promoting mental health awareness and support in the educational sector as they brought together more than 200 mental health professionals, practitioners, and academic members—including principals, teachers, and security and safety personnel—from Batangas and nearby provinces during its 1st UB Mental Wellness Summit  themed “Creating a Nurturing School Climate through Empowered Academe Mental Health Champions,” on June 1, 2024, at the University Auditorium, Culture and Arts Building.

After an inspirational message from University President Lily Marlene J. Hernandez-Bohn, the summit culminated with a Pledge of Commitment joined by Chairman of the Philippine Regulatory Board in Guidance and Counseling (PRB-GC), Luzviminda Guzman, Ed.D., RGC;  Vice-President of the Philippine Guidance Counseling Association (PGCA) – Batangas Chapter, Rochelle R. Sasuya, PhD., RGC; President of the Philippine Mental Health Association (PMHA) – Batangas Chapter Hazel Magpantay, RPsy;  Representative from Unilab Lingap Diwa Jasmin C. Santiago; and UB CoPWell Director Gladiola A. Eje-Dimaculangan, PhD, RGC, LPT. This unified effort for mental health received strong community support, highlighting a collective commitment to improving mental health services and support systems within the educational community.

The pledge was followed immediately by a powerful keynote address delivered by Guzman,  emphasizing the importance of integrating mental wellness into the educational experience. Together, we have the opportunity to create a paradigm shift—where mental wellness is seamlessly integrated into the educational experience, leading to more resilient, empathetic, and mentally healthy students, she stated, urging all attendees to join this journey with a shared sense of purpose and unity.

The keynote address was followed by insightful talks from mental health experts Bernadett Carandang, M.D., a renowned psychiatrist from Mary Mediatrix Medical Center and the consultant of the Batangas Medical Center’s Department of Psychiatry,  and Von Karlo N. Gonzales, RGC, a clinical counselor from Seasoned Counseling Clinic and a mental health leader. Carandang’s compelling talk, titled “It is No Drama: The Facts of Mental Health Concerns of Students,” addressed the importance of understanding student vulnerabilities and the necessity of open conversations about mental health. What is wrong with being vulnerable?, she asked the participants and explained that, Weakness isn’t bad by itself. If we don’t talk about mental health conditions, they will remain ideas floating in our minds. In open conversation, there is no fear of being judged or labeled, which creates a continuum of safety.

Meanwhile, Gonzales, who also practices clinically at Makati Medical City, shared his insights on practical ways to guide students at risk of mental health issues. His presentation, “It All Starts with Love: Ways to Heal our Students’ Pain,” focused on strategies for supporting students in need. He led participants through methods to foster a supportive and loving environment to aid in student healing.

Various establishments and organizations also provided support as partners, offering participants freebies and prizes, including Sunlife Financial, UB Grade School Parent-Teacher Association, Lovebean Cafe, Quetea by Yen, and McDonald’s Calicanto Branch.

At the end of the event, participants expressed their joy and gratitude for the opportunity to learn and be part of taking action in mental health. One participant noted, We are truly thankful because through this summit, we felt the passion to really give ourselves to serve our students. Being a mental health professional is such a selfless profession, and with a supportive community like this, our desire to help our students is strengthened.

In response, in her closing remarks, Eje-Dimaculangan delivered an inspiring message explaining the motivation behind the 1st ever Mental Health Summit, …You know, our hearts have always been so grateful for all the support we receive, and when you are so grateful, you just want to give back. We’ve been offering this free seminar for the community for almost five years, and it has become our ‘panata’ because we believe that it truly takes a village to raise a child. She further explained that everyone needs to be well-informed and equipped, emphasizing, In this chaotic world we live in, we can endure if we stand together to ensure that this place is a safe space for our students, our children, for all of us.

Thus, this inaugural event at the University of Batangas sets a promising precedent for future initiatives aimed at fostering mental health awareness and support in the region.

Mental Health Leaders Taking Action. Unilab Lingap Diwa representative, PRB-GC Chairman, PMHA Executive President and UB CoPWell Director awarded certificate of appreciation to resource expert, during the 1st UB MWS.
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