Dr. Ronald Del Castillo

I am an associate professor in the Department of Health Policy and Administration (College of Public Health) at UP Manila. I am an affiliate professor in the Department of Behavioral Sciences and in the Department of Social Sciences (College of Arts and Sciences). I also teach in the Department of Psychology (College of Social Sciences and Philosophy) at UP Diliman. I graduated with a bachelor of science in psychology from Fordham University in New York. I hold a master of science and doctorate in clinical psychology from a joint program between Palo Alto University and the Stanford University School of Medicine in Palo Alto, California. My doctoral dissertation examined sexual minority stress, health beliefs, self-efficacy and their association with sexual risk behaviors. I completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Tufts University in Boston, following clinical residency training at Harvard Medical School.Of the more than 300 applicants to the Harvard residency program, I was one of only nine residents admitted into the training program. I also hold a master in public health with specific training in public health policy, from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

I was born in Iloilo City and, like the stories of many Filipino families, in 1991 immigrated to Los Angeles. I hold both Filipino and American citizenships and have also lived in Kobe, Japan. Between July and September 2014, I conducted fieldwork in the Western Visayas in collaboration with the Philippine Department of Health (DOH), Region 6. With a global health fellowship from UCLA, I assessed the mental healthcare system of the region through a human rights lens. The findings of that fieldwork have been published in the Philippine Journal of Health Research and Development. After 24 years in the U.S., I returned to the Philippines "for good, to do good," in January 2015. I am one of the first recipients of the prestigious UP Balik-PhD Program, which recruits foreign-trained and foreign-educated Filipinos. In March 2015 I was officially appointed as full-time faculty. I primarily teach graduate-level courses in mental health, international health, health policy, healthcare services and management, and research methods. I also teach undergraduate-level and graduate-level courses in the political and behavioral sciences.

People who are most vulnerable have always been central to my work, both academic and non-academic. These include people with health problems (e.g., mental health problems, HIV/AIDS, chronic illnesses) and who are most disadvantaged due to avoidable and preventable socio-cultural or structural inequalities (e.g., poverty, corruption, class inequality, poor healthcare systems). This way of thinking and reflecting has and continues to be substantial in the ways in which I approach my personal and professional choices. It is precisely why I returned to the country.

My research work is informed by mental health, public health, and public policy, including socio-cultural and structural determinants of illness. I strive to conduct research that is relevant and accessible to the community. My research work has the following long-term goals: (a) to form the basis of a nationwide and internationally comparative information tracking system of the prevalence and distribution of mental disorders and service utilization; (b) to transition from descriptive epidemiology (e.g., prevalence) to analytical epidemiology (e.g., socioeconomic determinants or risk factors) of mental disorders; (c) to bridge the gap of empirical data essential for the development, implementation, and evaluation of mental health legislation, policy, and regulation; (d) to improve availability, accessibility, acceptability, and quality of mental health services; and (e) to reduce stigma as a significant barrier to seeking mental health treatment among Filipinos.

I am the principal investigator (PI) of a national epidemiological research on depression, anxiety, alcohol use problems, somatization and suicidality among Filipino university students. With a colleague in the University of Manchester (UK), I am also the co-PI of a RCUK-PCHRD funded project that explores the efficacy of communication through social media in the provision of psychosocial support among disaster-affected Filipinos. With colleagues in the Department of Health Policy and Administration (UP Manila), I am the project leader of a PCARI funded, population-based research that aims to integrate non-communicable disease management in primary care. In addition, with colleagues from the Japan National Center for Global Health and Medicine, Japan National Institute of Mental Health, and University of Ryukus in Okinawa, we are exploring disaster mental health among children and adolescents, in the context of the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and the November 2013 Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda). My other research interests include HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted infections, the LGBT community and other vulnerable groups, and health economics. This includes funding from the Providence/Boston Center for AIDS Research, in which I am exploring the experience of HIV-positive Filipinos in the HIV care continuum.

Community involvement and institutional commitments are varied. I have facilitated workshops and seminars on gender awareness and sensitivity, psychological first aid, stress management, critical thinking skills, mental health and human rights, and other topics for the Department of Science and Technology, DOH, hospitals, universities, and other organizations and institutions, in both the private and public sectors. At UP Manila I am the faculty adviser for the CPH Student Council and am the CPH faculty liaison to the UP Manila Office of Student Affairs, which is spearheading the university-wide Psychosocial Wellness Program. I have been a resource speaker and a consultant to policymakers in the House of Representatives and in the Philippine Senate and have written policy position papers on several topics, including mental health, sexual orientation and gender expression, and the minimum age of criminal responsibility. Whenever possible, I also try to translate research into the popular press, including an article published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer.