Dear learners, you’ve got this! Let's talk about mental health

Syazuin Sazali


Syazuin Sazali
29 Jul 2022 09:27am
(Source: 123rf)
(Source: 123rf)

Mental health issues. Mental health advocators. Mental health awareness. Mental wellness.

At times, you get tired of listening to these words now as you’re used to the terms after the pandemic hit.

However, before this, could you even believe that to an extent it was perhaps being censored in our educational and working setting?

No, don’t you dare talk about this topic out loud in the past!

You will most likely not get a good place in society. Some might even think you belong in the asylum.

For having an added awareness on life? How ironic!

Stigma associated with mental disorders can result in social isolation, low self-esteem, and limited chances in education and employment.

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Wait until they experience it themselves, though.

I never wish for bad things to happen to others. But people, have some empathy and of course, I can’t repeat its importance enough, awareness.

The fact that mental illness can affect anyone at any time in life and have a direct impact on development was somehow forgotten or ignored.

Good news, though. Finally, something good came out of Covid-19!

Usually, the word “Mental Health” itself is being strongly stigmatized in Malaysia, fortunately, society is also becoming more accepting; more people than ever before are comfortable discussing about mental health.

A safety and health practitioner, Nurul Izati Sahib, aged 27, shares that both educators and parents can be more supportive.

“Most of the time, when I was a student, I had a 50-50 experience when it came to this topic. Some educators can be truly supportive while some others perhaps needed to be more open. Mostly, I coped with my mental health on my own. However, as time shifts, more facilities and emotional support such as clinics, hospitals and health counsellors are now made available,” she said.

“These are all for free. As students, we should put all of these into use and not suffer in silence. On top of that, as an introvert, I slowly try to move out of my own circle. I try to join student activities and expand on my interest in music. Trying out new things and upgrading my skills build my strength and therefore helps me to lead my life better,” the Universiti Teknologi MARA alumni added.

On the other hand, the demands of living during the pandemic have caused a rising number of students to be diagnosed with depression, anxiety and other stress-related mental health problems.

A nationwide survey by the Ministry of Health (MOH) conducted across schools in Malaysia has found that Malaysian learners are also critically suffering from mental health problems (MOH, 2017).

A lecturer from Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman Kampar (UTAR), Mohamad Iqbaal Mohd Wazir mentioned, “Throughout my eight years of service, I can see the number of cases increasing; students now are experiencing a high level of mental health issues.

I’ve just came across a case with manic and bipolar disorder. We have to take actions immediately according to advice given by health experts to avoid worsening the issue.”

“However, I believe that some families are still conservative when it comes to this topic. Students are sometimes prone to mental abuse even at their home on top of their current commitment,” he continued.

“Support is made accessible but many people chose not to take action until things got really bad up to a point where they are having panic attacks, harming themselves and others, therefore everyone should definitely not treat this as a joke,” he concluded.

Some other study has also highlighted the abnormally high rate of stress, depression, and anxiety among students in Malaysia (Ishak, Ahmad & Omar, 2020; IBCCES, 2021; Kotera, Ting & Neary, 2020).

These are just a few recorded examples identified through research, but what about those who are not being reported?

A study noted, up to 75 per cent of students are hesitant to reach out for help when they are struggling.

This resistance puts them at an increased risk of dropping out of college, getting poor grades, suicide and substance abuse.

I remember how it was when I was in university. That was around fifteen years ago. I was hesitant to ask for help mostly because I was in denial and that I thought whatever I was going through was trivial. Was I just having a bad day or was it depression? How do I know when to seek for help?

Perhaps, the feeling I was experiencing was what all students were going through. Oh, was I wrong! Especially, if you are also suffering from any other diseases and illnesses.

Then, believe me, it is totally normal to find it hard to juggle life and your general well-being.

Thanks to those experiences, I am now able to manage my studies, work and life better than before. Every cloud has a silver lining.

On another note, Sheylee Ngew and EeLeng Yeow, both first year students from Tunku Abdul Rahman University of Management and Technology (TAR UMT) strongly believe that in order to overcome the challenges of learning in big groups at lecture halls, tutorial and support groups made available weekly by the university mostly help with their studies.

“Parents are supportive financially, however, sometimes when it comes to learning, they have their limits. They can’t help enough especially with their busy schedule working. I find learning responsibilities the most challenging; having to finish and settle workload on time. Therefore, I make sure that I have enough rest and sleep daily.” added Sheylee.

From all these sharing, it is prevalent that we all have one thing in common. We are all learners for life. We have our limits.

There is no shortage of statistics to drive home the message that mental health services aren't optional — they’re a necessity.

So, dear learners, you’re not alone. Speak up, raise your voice, and brace yourself. Mental health support is all around you. Do not be worried of any stigma. Seek help and help will be there.

You will discover that once you have lifted some of those heavy baggage you’re carrying, you are making room for more opportunities of having peace and happiness.

SYAZUIN SAZALI is a certified English language and soft skills coach. She aims to continuously advocate for progressive growth in education. Linkedin & Instagram: @syazuinsazali, Email: [email protected]