#BreakTheSilence mental health campaign launched in USM

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“Not even the rain could stop us!” said one participant after a heavy rain poured just before the start of the launching of the newest campaign on April 4, 2019 in front of the College of Business Development, Economics, and Management.

#BreakTheSilence campaign was launched to improve the mental health support in the University of Southern Mindanao. With the tagline “your story isn’t over yet”, the campaign is dedicated to start a more personal, holistic, and goal oriented movement.

Organized by the USM Campus Ambassadors and University Public Relation and Information Ofice in partnership with Psychology Department, The Mindanao Tech, Psychology Society, USM Muslim Students Association, Guidance Office, CBDEM, Gender and Development Office, and Office of the Board Secretary , #BreakTheSilence is a one year campaign aimed at raising awareness about mental health issues through restorative and reformative activities for the students, faculty, and staff of the University of Southern Mindanao.

UPRIO Head Mr. Lloyd Anton Von M. Colita read the manifesto of the campaing. When asked about why they initiated the movement, he said “We partnered with many campus organizations and offices in the hope of reaching out to more people in USM. Mental health is everybody’s concern. We invite other student orgs and offices to join the movement. This is our social responsibility.”

#BreakTheSilence campaigns for the end of mental health stigma and discrimination; more talks and focus group discussions to contribute to the discourse about depression; embracing diversity and uniqueness; an institutional program to protect USM stakeholders from mental health issues; for workshops and one-to-one meetings with the target audience and intervention from mental health professionals; for people to turn to religion and believe that faith helps them cope with everyday trials in life; and lastly, for a more sensitive and responsive community towards people who suffer from depression and other mental health issues.

Prof. Jerose Molina from the Psychology Department gave a short talk on depression. She discussed nine symptoms present among depressed people. According to her, people who suffer from depression have the following symptoms: 1) depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day, as indicated by either subjective report or observation made by others; 2) markedly diminished interest or pleasure in all, or almost all activities; 3) significant weight loss when not dieting or weight gain, or decrease or increase in appetite; 4) insomnia; 5) Psychomotor degradation which includes feelings of restlessness, feelings of being slowed down; 6) fatigue or weight loss; 7) feeling of worthlessness or excessive appropriate guilt; 8) diminished ability to think or concentrate; and 9) recurred thoughts of death, suicidal ideation without a specific plan, or a suicidal attempt.

Prof. Khadiguia Balah, the USMUSSA adviser, challenged the participants to know more about depression because understanding the cause and solution can save lives. According to World Health Organization, roughly 800,000 people die due to suicide every year. Among 15 to 29 years old, suicide is the second leading cause of death. These data prove that suicide is real and detrimental if untreated.

In her speech, USM Board Secretary Ms. Yvonne Saliling encouraged the participants to always talk to their friends every day. “A simple ‘how are you’ can already uplift a depressed and sad mood or disposition,” she said.

Ms. Amme Rose Blonto, a CED faculty, delivered an inspiring message. Emphasizing the importance of faith and our personal relationship to God, Ms. Blonto also offered a prayer to everyone present.

The launching program ended with the signing of the Pledge of Commitment. The event also saw the start of the “Project Semicolon” which gathered a total of 106 volunteers who would be trained by the campaign’s external partner Yes Alumni PH on how to help people who suffer from depression and other mental health issues.

#BreakTheSilence campaign would spearhead a series of events for students, faculty, staff, and parents to help raise the awareness on mental health in the coming weeks. Indeed, this is USM’s answer to the rising number of youth and adults alike who suffer from mental health issues.