In conjunction with World Mental Health Day on October 10, 2019, the Student Development and Counselling Department organised a Mental Health Campaign for participants to understand people dealing with mental health issues and help them overcome their problem.
One of the speakers, Befrienders Kuala Lumpur Vice-President, Victor Tan shared his knowledge on suicide prevention with the participants. He mentioned that mental health includes emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how people think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how to handle stress, relate to others, and make choices.
According to Tan, a person facing mental health issues generally has difficulty in sharing their experiences with their friends, colleagues and family members. Thus, they feel helpless in finding a solution for their issue.
“We want to make it normal for people to talk about their problems. When people talk about it, they can become calmer and be more willing to share with others without feeling judged,” he said.
“Through the calls that we receive to Befrienders, a majority of the people call us more than two or three times to talk about their problem. By giving them room to share, we are indirectly helping to prevent them from taking further action such as committing suicide and giving them as much support as they need,” explained Tan.
Befrienders provides a non-judgmental space for anonymous individuals to share their problem without fear of criticism in complete confidentiality.
The session continued with a dialogue session by Darshini Sitharam who is a mental health survivor and also the People’s Foundation founder.
She mentioned that the stigma of mental illness needs to be stopped as it will deter people from sharing their issues.
“We tend to stigmatise the words ‘mental illness’ and the community tends to dismiss people who have mental health issues, leaving them feeling discouraged,” she said.
“Through our organisation, we want to spread awareness by sharing our personal experience and help people to talk about theirs. We engage with registered counsellors and psychologists from hospitals and university settings and connect them with those that have mental health issues,” said Darshini.
Amongst students who attended the sharing session was Sainishaa M Jegatheswaran, a year one student of Optometry. She said that she was glad that she took a time to participate in the session.
“This session helped me to be more open-minded about mental health. I think you can always talk with someone, for example in every university they have counsellors; the help is always there, you just have to be brave and speak out,” said Sainishaa.
Bella Fransiska, a year three student of Business Administration said this session helped her to understand her surroundings better.
“This session was very helpful and useful and it enhanced my awareness of my surroundings. I know now how to approach a person who is dealing with a mental health issue,” explained Bella.
The session ended with Student Development and Counselling Department head, Megala Chandra Sakeran presenting tokens of appreciation to both speakers.