According to the World Health Organization (WHO), health is a state of complete physical, mental, and social wellbeing, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.
Every year on October 10, the world celebrates World Mental Health Day as a means of raising awareness about mental health issues and advocating for better mental health care and support, as well as ending the stigma associated with it.
Transcending globally, affecting people of all ages, races, and backgrounds, this day serves as a timely reminder of the importance of mental health in a world where physical health frequently takes precedence.
Millions of individuals throughout the world battle with anxiety, despair, and numerous other mental health disorders, which are exacerbated by factors like the Covid-19 pandemic, economic uncertainty, and social isolation.
Many of these people struggle in silence as a result of the stigma associated with seeking treatment.
At a closer look, mental health awareness in Malaysia has gained increasing importance as part of our holistic health in recent years. This is as an estimated one in three adults are experiencing mental health issues, and this constitutes the second largest health problem after heart disease.
From the 2023 Budget, RM34.5 million was allocated for the establishment of the National Centre of Excellence for Mental Health, and to strengthen mental health and psychosocial support services to address mental health issues on a more serious note.
The urbanisation of Malaysia, rising stress levels, and shifting lifestyles are some of the factors that have contributed to the growth in mental health issues among Malaysians. Yet, there is still much room for mental health awareness in our society.
Some of the many obstacles are the stigmas faced within the community, such as the fear of discrimination and social ostracism, the barriers of accessibility (i.e. urban vs. rural areas), cultural beliefs, as well as misunderstanding of the true meaning of mental health (i.e. early intervention and treatment).
While it has been identified that it is easy to talk about our physical health over a common chat, it is hard to mention mental health struggles. Generally, the fear of judgment is high due to the lack of understanding.
Mental health impacts how we think, act, and feel, and it guides us on how to handle stressors, engage with others, and make positive choices in life. Getting a good hold of mental wellness habits enables us to navigate life wholly while we take care of our physical health.
Thus, it is highly essential for us to learn about the 3Es:
- Encouraging awareness of mental health and suicide prevention among the community.
- Educating the community about the resources available for various mental health needs and suicidal behaviour.
- Equipping the community with basic skills to strengthen their mental health and with basic suicide prevention skills.
With the 3Es, the community will be able to come forward to steer a positive environment in discussing mental health and its challenges.
In breaking the silence surrounding mental health issues by creating awareness on mental health and suicide prevention among our community, let us unite to nurture minds. In conjunction with this, Life Inspired Network Society (LINetS) and Taylor’s University Centre for Counselling Services and Impact Lab 8 (Mental Health and Wellbeing) are co-organising Subang Jaya’s first ever Community Mental Wellness Fair, with the theme “Hope Again”.
Taking place on October 7, 2023, at Taylor’s University, the fair will see a gathering of industry experts, with a programme line-up consisting of counselling and mental health support information, workshops, an escape room, and debate competition.
Ng Shan Na is the Head of the Centre for Counselling Services and Student Welfare at Taylor’s University.
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