This university system-wide research project will estimate the prevalence and social determinants of mental health problems among students at the University of the Philippines - the national university of the country and its leading academic and research hub. Though there is increased awareness on mental health - most recently with the passage of the Mental Health Act 2018 - mental health problems, access to mental health care, and use of that care are not well understood in the country.

research design

University students are at risk for mental health problems. A number of psychiatric symptoms are evident in early teenage years and a number of disorders can be diagnosed by adolescence and early adulthood - when you are at the university. The Diwa Mental Health Survey (DMHS) is an online survey of randomly selected students across the seven main campuses of the UP System. Students who complete the survey are then invited to a focus group discussion.

online survey

Students are randomly emailed through the university registrar. The questionnaire can be accessed by desktop, tablet, and phone. It asks a range of topics, including depression, anxiety, somatic complaints, alcohol use problems, suicide and self-harm behaviors. It also asks about stressful life events, access to university services and supports, as well as beliefs about mental health in general. The DMHS can be completed in about 20 minutes and is anonymous.

focus group discussion (FGD)

The FGDs build on the questionnaire. These discussions look at student experience navigating mental health care in the university. It more deeply explores beliefs about mental health in general and mental disorders in particular raised in the survey. These talks look at what students believe they need from the university to promote and protect their wellbeing on campus. These FGDs are about 60-90 minutes and are audio recorded for quality assurance.


Official Title. Prevalence of mental health problems among Filipino university students: a multi-site, mixed-method research

Common Title. Diwa mental health survey (DMHS)

Principal Investigator. Ronald Del Castillo, PsyD, MPH

Project Status. Survey questionnaire (completed; data analysis in progress); focus group discussions (ongoing)

Ethics Approval and Registration. 2018-239-01 (UP Manila Research Ethics Board), 2016-1050 (UP Manila Research Grants Administration Office), 2nd floor Paz Mendoza Building, College of Medicine, University of the Philippines, Manila, 547 Pedro Gil Street, Ermita, 1000 Manila; telephone: +63 2 526 4346, mobile: +63 (92) 7236 4910, email: upmreb@post.upm.edu.ph

Basic Eligibility. Only University of the Philippines (UP) students are eligible to participate. This includes students who graduated in the 1st semester of AY2018-19 for the survey questionnaire. For the FGDs, only students at UP Diliman, UP Manila, UP Baguio, and UP Los Banos are eligible. Students participating in the FGDs need not have taken the survey. Participants must between the age of 18 and 35 years at the time of the survey.

Possible risks. All research involve risk. Potential risks associated with participation in the DMHS are unlikely, of low risk, and considered transient. Participants might feel uncomfortable answering mental health related questions, which might lead to psychological distress. This is highly unlikely.

Benefits. The potential direct individuals benefits to participants are minimal and are limited to the overarching benefit to the population as a whole. The survey might lead to self-reflection about their own health, behaviors, and community. Bringing these issues to awareness might lead to new information or knowledge. The findings might inform policies and program planning for the UP System and for each campus. The data also contributes to the dearth of mental health research that the newly signed Mental Health Act 2018 highlights as a key provision.

Privacy and Confidentiality. All responses to the survey are anonymous. Your answers cannot be traced back to you. No individual survey response can be linked back to you. The research does not ask for your name or any other information that would specifically identify you. The FGD will include about 8-10 students and will be scheduled at a later date in the semester.

Incentive or Compensation. They will not be provided with an incentive or compensation for participation. A light snack will be available during the FGDs.

Commitment. This a 2-year project. The survey data collection was approximately 2-3 months, starting in the 2nd semester of AY2018-19. Survey participation was about 20 minutes and FGD participation will be 60-90 minutes.

Location(s). UP Baguio, UP Diliman, UP Los Banos, UP Manila, UP Visayas, UP Cebu, UP Mindanao

Funding Source. UP System Balik-PhD Recruitment Program

Project Contact. diwaMHsurvey@gmail.com