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Gold award for PCHRD’s Mental Health R&D Program recognizes research on spirituality and mental health
In recognition of the initiatives that shed light on the interplay between mental health, research, and spirituality, the Healthy Pilipinas Awards for Partners 2023 confers a Gold Award to the Mental Health R&D Program of the R&D Management Division of the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD) on 27 October 2023 at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC), Reception Hall, Pasay City.
The program earned the Gold Award for its initiatives and activity entitled, “Spirituality in Philippine Mental Health Research and Practice, ” a product of multiple round table discussions (RTDs) conducted with different faith-based organizations, mental healthcare providers, and researchers to identify the role, application, and effect of spirituality and religiosity in mental health and to generate research topics for the next mental health research agenda.
In a bid to uncover specific aspects of spirituality and mental health, the Mental Health R&D Program, in collaboration with its Mental Health Research Advisory Group (MH-RAG), organized a series of virtual round table discussions (RTDs) on religion, spirituality, and health, which took place on January 12, 2022, and March 30, 2022, through the Zoom platform involving various faith-based organizations, mental healthcare providers, and researchers. The discussions during these RTDs aimed to integrate spirituality and mental health into the National Mental Health Research Agenda, following the Biopsychosocial-spiritual Framework.
This comprehensive approach effectively addressed the three core elements of strategic health promotion implementation: healthy governance, healthy settings, and health literacy. As a result, it merited the 2023 Healthy Pilipinas Awards for Partners from both the Department of Health (DOH) and the Galing Pook Foundation, as a remarkable effort toward a healthier Philippines.
Launched in 2022, the Healthy Pilipinas Awards is a three-year sequence recognizing achievements in the areas of Healthy Communities (Local Government Units), Healthy Champions (Partner Organizations), and Healthy Schools (Educational Institutions).
This year, the awards honored the remarkable contributions made by Healthy Champions or partner organizations that played a pivotal role in advancing community health, in line with the DOH Health Promotion Framework Strategy for 2021-2030.
While the RTDs were closed sessions, their findings were presented in a public forum held on December 14, 2022, at the Philippine International Convention Center, Pasay City. The forum, titled “Spirituality in Philippine Mental Health Research and Practice,” aimed to inform various stakeholders about the results of the RTDs and encourage discussions about innovative approaches to incorporate spirituality into therapy and recovery for individuals with mental health conditions. Additionally, the forum sought to highlight the research topics on spirituality that would be included in the National Mental Health Research Agenda (NMHRA), with the hope of enhancing policies and mental health services at both the national and global levels.
“The forum and activities on spirituality form part of the Mental Health R&D Program’s broader initiatives to advance the knowledge and application of mental health in the country. By establishing national research priorities, disseminating knowledge to the public, and supporting research that enhances the accessibility of mental health information and services tailored to the people’s needs, our program remains steadfast in its dedication to promoting public health and fostering a healthier Philippines,” the Mental Health R&D Team says.
Mental health practitioners expressed that the event broadened their perspective on integrating spirituality into their practice, while researchers found valuable insights for their future research projects. Further, individuals who do not adhere to a particular religious belief system found the event beneficial in understanding how personal beliefs could support mental health.
The insights garnered from the spirituality-focused discussions are anticipated to influence the development of the National Mental Health Research Agenda 2023-2028, which aims to integrate spirituality as the fourth dimension into the biopsychosocial-spiritual framework of health.
The public forum featured esteemed speakers, including Dr. Michael Tan, Sister Mary John Mananzan, Dr. Ma. Lourdes “Honey” Carandang, and Dr. Allan Bernardo, among others. These experts, along with the members of the PCHRD Mental Health Research Advisory Group (MH-RAG), engaged in discussions that promised to shape the future of mental health research and practice in the Philippines.
“This recognition underscores the importance of comprehensive research and the inclusion of spirituality in the mental health discourse, reaffirming the commitment of the DOST-PCHRD to create a healthier and more compassionate Philippines,” Dr. Jaime C. Montoya, DOST-PCHRD Executive Director said.
Since its inception, the program has actively supported and managed over 325 million pesos for mental health research and related activities across the country, focusing on areas such as capacity building, mental health literacy, and mental health fora.