University students are navigating through a transitional period that comes with cognitive, affective, and behavioral risk factors associated with mental disorders. The Diwa Mental Health Survey (DMHS) assessed mental health problems and psychosocial concerns with a web-based questionnaire among randomly selected Filipino adolescents and young adults (male = 30.68%; mean age = 21; age range = 18-35) in a seven-campus public university system. All campuses were surveyed and are located throughout the Philippines. Depressive symptoms (n = 871), self-harm (n = 770), and suicidal behaviors (n = 770) are presented here. About one-third of the students reported little interest or pleasure in doing things (36.17%) or feeling down, depressed, or hopeless (32.73%) in the 2 weeks prior to the anonymous survey. About one-quarter (25.19%) reported intentionally cutting or harming themselves in the past 12 months. Most (72.08%) had ever thought that it would be better if they were dead, with half (52.34%) endorsing this thought in the past 12 months. Nearly one-quarter (22.73%) had a suicide attempt in their lifetime, with 82 students having attempted in the past 12 months. These findings suggest that more needs to be done to promote and protect the mental wellbeing of students. The newly signed Philippine Mental Health Act of 2018 might help to close this gap. With behavior linked to culture and local norms, qualitative research is needed to illuminate these numbers. Universities are well positioned to create a culture in which students thrive.
Ronald Del Castillo, University of the Philippines Manila, Philippines