Mental health among university students has become a serious issue since the pandemic started. Anxiety, depression, and insomnia are a few of the disorders that students must deal with. It’s necessary for the sake of the students to be aware of the illness and to give them a platform to ask questions to the experts. On 26th February 2021 at 8:30pm, the Student Representative Council (SRC) of UNITEN held a Facebook live with panelists to inform students of “How to Combat Poor Mental Health”. The #KITAUNITEN campaign and its directors collaborated with Befrienders to help students understand their mental state. The panelists were Kenny Lim – Executive Director of Befrienders, Mohd Hafis Bin Mohamad – UNITEN Lecturer of Psychology & Moral Studies and Darrell Dau – UNITEN Student Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering.
Based on WHO, mental health is a state of wellbeing, in which an individual realises their own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, work productively, and contribute to their community. There are 3 aspects that play a big role in mental health which are emotional wellbeing, cognitive wellbeing, and behavioural wellbeing. These three aspects decide if we are managing our mental health well or not. Students’ mental health have been greatly affected due to the lockdown. The reasons behind it are listed below:
- Students cannot perform their daily routine that they used to.
- Restrictions in enjoying the activities they love.
- Procrastinating their daily activities.
- UNITEN students are not well-equipped to help themselves and lack of knowledge.
- UNITENians have trust issues in believing that organisations like Befrienders & GCU are effective in helping their personal mental stress problems.
Many times, it becomes difficult for the students to realize that they have mental health illness. They believe that their behaviour is normal because they lack the understanding of mental issues. Mr. Lim divided mental health issues into 3 aspects and described the symptoms by which students can understand that someone is suffering from the illness.
- Cognitive wellbeing- Negativity built inside students which make them feel they are useless and helpless. Students keep asking the question “What if”.
- Emotional wellbeing – fear and anxiety of something bad might happen. It causes the students to feel anxious about the future. Also, mood swings are a sign of emotional distress.
- Behavioural wellbeing – Anger and argument towards others, loss of motivation and interest and changes in daily schedule are some of the main symptoms for behavioural wellbeing.
So, the important question is HOW CAN WE COMBAT THE POOR MENTAL HEALTH AND HELP THE STUDENTS OF UNITEN? A survey was conducted by the Student X Society Discourse team and the results included that 76.9% agree very strongly that mental health is important. 65.8% stated that friends were the top people providing emotional support for them, followed by family (40.2%), partners (22.2%) and mental health services (4.3%). From the survey, it is understood that students need to be aware of the symptoms and to keep an eye on their friends who are going through difficult times. There is nothing to be ashamed of to accept that “I have a mental illness”. Fellow students or families should not look down on the patient. Friends and family should help and support them was the advice suggested by Mr. Dau and Mr. Lim. Also, students should take more care of themselves and should not just indulge in studies the whole time. They should contribute some of their time to enjoy hobbies and activities. At the same time, they should put more emphasis on their mental health rather than their academic performance. Also, bear in mind that if there is no one to listen, have a proper self-talk about the struggles as this helps to remove negative perspective and thoughts from a person’s mind and helps their mind to ponder on ideas on how to improve yourself and situation. This self-talk may even be personally ‘talking to God’ if someone has a religious faith.
Students benefitted greatly from this live session with the experts. This campaign gave them an idea on how to take more care of their mental health, and many students had questions to ask to the panellists. The last 25 minutes were allocated for the attendees to ask questions. Also, the first 6 attendees who asked questions received a gift voucher from the SRC team. After the Q&A session, the event ended around 10.45pm and the attendees left with a good state of mental health.
Written by Hebah Muhammad
Edited by Nur Adriana binti Mohd Nizam