DJ Vicka of the Wildcat Radio is preparing her questions for CIT University's Guidance Counselor, Ms. Imari Curambao.
DJ Vicka is preparing her questions for CIT University’s Guidance Counselor, Ms. Imari Curambao.

October in the Philippines is a month that embraces a symphony of celebrations, from the festivities of MassKara to the various town fiestas honoring local patron saints. Yet, amidst these cultural and vibrant events, there’s an important advocacy that calls for our attention — it’s Mental Health Awareness Month. To emphasize this significant issue, our very own Wildcat Radio hosted a special episode of “Wednesday’s with Vicka” that featured a profound conversation with the university’s esteemed Guidance Counselor, Ms. Imari Curambao.

From the moment the microphone was turned on, DJ Vicka’s energy and Ms. Curambao’s insights synced perfectly, creating an atmosphere that was both warm and informative. Their conversation kicked off by addressing a startling truth: college years, despite being romanticized as the best years of one’s life, can be a boiling pot of stress, anxiety, and identity crises for many students.

Ms. Curambao was quick to point out that while external pressures such as academic performance, maintaining relationships, and navigating personal finances are tangible and often discussed, it’s the internal battles that many students silently wage which demand our utmost attention. She emphasized the crucial nature of recognizing early signs of mental health issues among students. The indicators might be subtle — a shift in behavior, increased absenteeism, or even something as seemingly minor as a change in dressing style or a drop in personal hygiene standards.

DJ Vicka brought up an essential query — why are students today more prone to these mental health challenges? Ms. Curambao’s response was layered. In an era where social media dominates, comparisons, the thirst for validation, and the incessant need to display a picture-perfect life can be overwhelming. These virtual pressures, combined with real-world expectations, can create an environment that’s ripe for mental health struggles.

However, the heart of the discussion lay in the solutions. Ms. Curambao emphasized the significance of creating safe spaces for open dialogues. She discussed the importance of universities having robust counseling services and how peer support groups could play a transformative role.

DJ Vicka then steered the conversation towards the stigmas associated with mental health in academic settings. The myth that mental health concerns equate to weakness or incompetence is still prevalent. Breaking this barrier, Ms. Curambao shared, is a collective responsibility. It starts from the top with academic institutions acknowledging and addressing these issues and trickles down to students fostering an environment of empathy and understanding.

CIT-U Guidance Counselor, Ms. Imari Curambao, encourages students to always seek help or lend a listening ear.

One of the most poignant moments of the interview was when Ms. Curambao shared personal anecdotes from her counseling sessions. Without breaching confidentiality, she spoke of resilient students who, despite grappling with severe challenges, consistently showcased immense strength, often acting as inspirations for her.

In closing, the conversation circled back to the core essence of Mental Health Awareness Month. It’s not just about recognizing and addressing the issues but about creating a culture of acceptance, understanding, and support. As students navigate the roller-coaster of college life, it’s vital to ensure they’re mentally equipped to handle the highs and lows.

And as October draws to a close, let’s carry the torch of mental health awareness not just for a month but as an ongoing commitment.

DJ Vicka and Ms. Imari Curambao after their heartwarming interview

To every student out there: remember, you’re never alone in your journey. Seek help when needed, offer a listening ear when you can, and always prioritize your mental well-being. The strength of our community lies in our collective consciousness and compassion.