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Brunei
Wednesday, October 5, 2022
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Wednesday, October 5, 2022
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    Call to challenge mental health stigma

    Azlan Othman

    The World Health Organization (WHO) states that one in four people has experienced some form of mental illness, said physchologist at the Ministry of Health (MoH) Fauziyyah Hanani binti Haji Abdul Manap.

    “It is quite common and after COVID-19, the number is even higher,” she said. “We need to challenge the stigma surrounding mental health, educate ourselves, spread more awareness on mental health, have more conversations on mental health and have zero tolerance policy towards stigma surrounding it.”

    The stigma towards mental illness is quite strong in the country, she said, which is further exaggerated by the incorrect representation of mental health.

    “Some are even shamed of being mental ill,” she said at a forum entitled ‘The Dilemma of Mental Health’ by diverse young professionals at the Legislative Council building yesterday, adding that “we need to stop mystifying the term ‘mental health'”.

    Forum organiser Young Professionals Network of Brunei Darussalam said mental health is one of the most neglected areas of health globally.

    Panellists at the forum. PHOTO: AZLAN OTHMAN

    “This was true before COVID-19, but the pandemic further exacerbated the status of mental health. Youth today are living through an unprecedented global crisis. COVID-19 is forcing students out of classrooms, forcing entrepreneurs out of businesses, and forcing youth out of jobs with no clear end in sight.

    “The devastation of the pandemic -millions of deaths, economic strife and curbs on social interaction – have already had a marked effect on people’s mental health.”

    “There is no doubt that young people are the most affected by the crisis, which has seen a rise in anxiety and depression that may take years to recover from.

    “It is ever more important to help young people develop resilience to face the challenges and adapt to changes brought on by the pandemic. Building resilience requires a paradigm shift and acknowledgement that mental health issues are the new reality that needs to be proactively addressed through the whole-of-society approach, with community-based involvement, along with education and resources.

    “As Brunei Darussalam is aspiring to transform the nation into a well-diversified economy, the youth as the engine of transformation must be equipped with skills to be resilient, to prepare and plan for, cope and recover from, and successfully adapt to adverse events such as unemployment, economic shocks, pandemic, among others,” said the organiser.

    Meanwhile, panellist Pengiran Salimatul Sa’ada binti Pengiran Mohd Saleh, who is an educational physchologist at the Special Education Unit, Ministry of Education touched on the pros and cons of social media.

    “Excessive use of social media has negative effects on our mental well-being. We are hooked to our phones and excessive use affects our sleep, work-life balance and social comparison with other people,” she said.

    On strategies to cope with mental health, she believed that “we need to learn to take care of ourselves, such as our physiological needs, while fulfilling safety needs, need for love in our family, our work, and esteem needs such as productivity. We need to be a better version of ourselves.”

    Meanwhile counsellor, mental health and addiction coach at Clarity Hajah Norajleen Umniatul Hafizan binti Haji Alimas said it is important to provide people with mental health issues a listening ear.

    “We need to be there and listen to them. Communication skill is also important when talking to those with mental health issues,” she said.

    Another panellist, Prison Assistant Counsellor at the Prisons Department Fariszal bin Ali, brought up the importance of spiritual healing of mental health.

    “If there is no faith in the heart of a Muslim, it will break us and cause mental health issues,” he said.

    Meanwhile, co-founder of the Young Professionals Network Brunei (YPN Brunei) Aspadiyah binti Mohd Sah moderated the forum.

    The first edition of the forum was held in conjunction with Brunei Mid Year Conference and Exhibition (MYCE) 2021 and hosted by the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports and YPN Brunei.

    The Youth Forum Brunei is a platform set up to encourage constructive dialogues and discussions among the youth on current issues of importance to youth and national development.

    This inaugural forum, themed ‘Resilient Youth, Resilient Nation’, aspired to foster dialogues regarding mental health by deciphering the different realities of mental health facing the youth while simultaneously shared insights on the skills necessary to build up resilience in them.

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