| Written by UP Media and Public Relations Office

Question: Why are health and wellness important in a university setting? What are the major health and wellness issues being faced by the system or by your constituent university or campus? What steps are being taken at your level to address these concerns? What more do you think can or should be done to improve health and wellness on campus?

Health and wellness are fundamental concerns in a university setting. There is a need to proactively promote good health and optimum wellness among university constituents—students, faculty, staff, and alumni. Health and wellness programs are important in ensuring the productivity of university employees. They should address health concerns and provide healthy options that could reduce health care costs and increase vitality among university constituents to function productively in the university.

The university creates an environment that supports a healthy way of life.

Dr. Sue Liza C. Saguiguit
Department of Human and Family Development Studies
College of Human Ecology
UP Los Baños

Providing a healthy life in campus involves addressing the states of physical, mental and social well-being of university constituents. It is an evolving process, with the aim of providing an enabling environment for its constituents to achieve total human development. The state of human beings results from the interrelations between them and their social and physical environment. In the context of a university as a healthy community, creating and improving the social and physical environments for people to develop their maximum potential and contribute productively to the university is of prime importance.

Health is a resource for personal and professional goals to be achieved and for the development of the institution. In an effort to provide an enabling environment to achieve these goals, UPLB supports the health and well-being of its constituents and their families in different stages of life through human development programs and is creating a campus environment conducive to learning and boosting health and well-being.

UPLB provides programs for the total development of its constituents—individuals, their families and the community. The programs are anchored on disciplinal thrusts and serve as instructional and research laboratories. UPLB also provides services to the immediate community. In UPLB, most of the health and wellness-related programs are initiated by the College of Human Ecology. As a discipline, Human Ecology promotes the holistic understanding of human development across the life stages in the context of its social, natural and the built environment.

The thrusts of the College of Human Ecology are in the areas of human development, human nutrition, social development, and human settlements planning. The College has four units, the Department of Human and Family Development Studies (DHFDS), Institute of Human Nutrition and Food (IHNF), Department of Social Development Services (DSDS), and the Department of Community and Environmental Resource Planning (DCERP).

The Department of Human and Family Development (DHFDS) has programs that serve as instructional and research laboratories for students and provide services for families of faculty and staff of the university. The Day Care Laboratory is a program to promote developmental experiences to children, ages 2-3 years old, and provide them alternative or supplementary care while their parents are working in the campus. The Child Development Laboratory is a program for early childhood development for children ages 3-5 years old. It has served as a preschool for children of UPLB employees for the last 52 years.

The Elderly Development Program attends to the needs of the elderly members 60 years old and above, of the UPLB community. It caters to the needs of senior faculty members, staff, alumni, and recent retirees of the university. It provides activities for the holistic development of the elderly. The Elderly Development Program provides regular health and wellness seminars, nutrition counseling among others. Moreover, the DHFDS has a Day Care Resource Center, a program that provides capacity building initiatives and technical assistance for child development and day care workers of the community, and neighboring municipalities and provinces.

The Institute for Human Nutrition and Food (IHNF) offers a program for the nutritional well-being of UPLB constituents and nearby communities, through its Nutrition and Wellness Clinic. IHNF provides nutrition screening and counseling to UPLB constituents. In addition, a Lactation Station has also been established for nursing/lactating university staff.

Some initiatives that need to be done to improve health and wellness on campus include:

There is a need to pursue more health and wellness programs that are holistic in nature and would entail multidisciplinary or interdisciplinary collaboration among academic units. It would also promote integration of disciplines in addressing complex health related issues. Such comprehensive programs could be considered as social laboratories and provide the necessary exposure and learning opportunities for our faculty, staff, and students, towards a healthy university.

Further, health-related programs would encourage opportunities for collaboration with the local government and government agencies to be beneficial not only to the University but the immediate community.