Kuala Lumpur, Thursday 5th November 2020 – A Zoom session between YAM Tengku Puteri Raja Tengku Puteri Iman Afzan Al-Sultan Abdullah and Malaysian students at home and in the UK has been held today to explore mental health at university.
The Princess met students at HELP University and in the UK, with discussion focused on the additional strains of the pandemic, being isolated from friends and family, and what we can do to support good mental health.
Talking about the pandemic, HELP University psychology student Rachel Chan said: “With it comes lots of stresses, lots of feeling lows, and periods of just feeling down. As psychology students we have that upper hand of knowing how to take care of our mental health, but that is not always the case. Around my circle of friends, we sort of struggle to practice that. Having knowledge is one thing, but practicing it is another.”
Several students, including those in Malaysia and abroad, emphasised the need for a shift in attitudes toward mental health, and particularly toward seeking help. One of the students described how mental health stigma means she hides her attendance at counselling from her parents. Darren Leong, who is studying economics at University College London (UCL), explained that when he was in high school, just a couple of years ago, being ‘sent to the school counsellor’ was seen as a punishment for misbehaviour rather than support for mental health.
Abbernaa Dhevi Kukananthan, who is studying Human, Social and Political Science at Cambridge University said: “We treat mental health as a subsistence way of living, as opposed to something that is perpetual and long lasting. So when it comes to mental health we take it as ‘we will be fine to accomplish these other material goals, we will be fine so long as we get our straight ‘A’s, we will take care of everything to allow our material goals to be achieved’ without realising that, at the end of the day, mental health is a goal in itself.”
The Princess, who also studied in the UK and is currently International Patron of World Mental Health Day 2020, praised the young people for their fortitude and openness in discussing mental health challenges. “I really applaud you all, right now, getting through all of this. I was an anxious student as it was, I didn’t even go to freshers because I was just such as an anxious person, so I can’t imagine living through Covid as a student.”
Abbernaa Dhevi Kukananthan added: “I feel that one particular thing that we can focus on right now is that, given how everything seems so bad and so highlighted, I think right now is the perfect time to see how schools can be better equipped to deal with a lot of concerns from students.”
The discussion was part of the My Mind On Film youth mental health film festival being run by the Centre for Mental Health and Wellbeing. The festival is holding a series of webinars including My Mental Health: How to Take Care of It on Saturday November 7th at 10.30am Malaysia time.
Tengku Puteri Iman Afzan who is one of the jurors on the My Mind On Film festival competition said: “I feel like being able to showcase your mind, or what you’re going through, on film is amazing. Some people express their worries through maybe journaling, or they go to the gym, different variations of what people do to release, but I think this a really good way of not only getting your thoughts out but also sharing and promoting awareness about mental health and I look forward to seeing all of these videos. I’m very excited to be a part of it.”
You can register for the My Mental Health webinar at http://bit.do/mmof-webinar2
About the My Mind On Film Festival
You can learn more by contacting the MMOF festival team or going straight to www.filmfreeway.com/mymindonfilm where you can also submit your film!
Access all related sites here: https://linktr.ee/MMOF
Follow on IG/FB: mymindonfilm.my
About the Centre for Mental Health and Wellbeing (CMHW)
Launched in January 2020, the Centre for Mental Health and Wellbeing (CMHW) is a collaboration between HELP University and the Malaysian Mental Health Association (MMHA) to support mental health at a national and regional level. This will be achieved through academic research, training programmes and a think tank to anticipate and address emerging challenges and opportunities in mental health and wellbeing. See our first newsletter for more details on CMHW activities. For more information email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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Dr Marc Archer
Department of Psychology
Faculty of Behavioural Sciences, HELP University