Over the past years, there has been an increase in the prevalence of mental health issues in the Philippines. According to the National Statistics Office (NSO), mental illnesses are the third most common forms of morbidity for Filipinos*. As such, the need for psychological support and interventions has truly become more pressing. In response to this, Dr. Ma. Regina M. Hechanova, professor of the Department of Psychology at the Ateneo de Manila University ventured into developing community-based mental health interventions for survivors of natural disasters and recovering drug users.
Dr. Hechanova is currently Chief of Party of the Recovery within our Reach Project, and has done extensive research in the subjects of addiction recovery, disaster mental health, trauma, and clinical interventions. She was also the president of the Psychological Association of the Philippines (PAP), and has a PhD in Industrial/Organizational Psychology.
Dr. Hechanova with Dr. Fernando T. Aldaba, Dean of the School of Social Sciences who presented a token of appreciation
In her Professional Chair Lecture entitled “Mental Health for and with the People”, held last November 19, 2019 at the Faber Hall Function Room in the Loyola Schools campus, Dr. Hechanova highlighted the importance of utilizing an interdisciplinary approach towards addressing mental health issues. Her team was able to develop these innovative and evidence-based programs by establishing partnerships with key stakeholders who provided unique perspectives.
Dr. Hechanova was presented the certificate of appreciation by Dr. Ma. Louise Antonette N. De Las Peñas, Ateneo de Manila University Associate Dean for Research and Creative Work and Dr. Filomeno Aguilar, Chair of the University Research Council.
Dr. Hechanova with colleagues from the Department of Psychology
She discussed as well the importance of ownership and community involvement when it comes to initiating resilience programs. As much as psychological interventions initially focus on the individual, the social aspect of recovery and healing can no longer be set aside. Dr. Hecahnova thus asserted that a form of empowerment is instilled within the members of the community when they are included throughout the entire process. By ensuring the involvement and commitment of the entire community, one is able to establish an intervention that is truly designed for and with the people.
“We lack mental health professionals!” Dr. Hechanova reiterates in her lecture. In a country with a population of 100 million, there are presently only 700 psychiatrists and a thousand psychiatric nurses.*
Among those who attended the lecture were people of diverse backgrounds: undergraduate and graduate Psychology students from the Ateneo, Ateneo alumni, mental health professionals, and even students of varying degree courses from the University of the Philippines and Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Marikina came to Dr. Hechanova’s professorial lecture to learn more about Psychological community interventions.
A group photo of the audience members
The lecture was instrumental in sparking discourse and discussion surrounding the mental health situation in the Philippines, which are vital for the effectiveness of community-based interventions. This endeavor, which has reached the senses of members of different communities, will hopefully be of great help in promoting better mental health for and with the people.
The lecture of Dr. Hechanova is the first of the Professorial Chair Lecture Series for School Year 2019-2020 sponsored by the University Research Council that will highlight various research of professors in the University.