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Silencing stigma, amplifying support

In today’s fast-paced world, the relentless pursuit of success and happiness often consumes our attention. There is a hidden adversary that silently plagues millions of lives every day: anxiety, known locally in Brunei as uri.

Anxiety is typically classified into four broad categories: generalised anxiety disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, and various phobia-related disorders.

As a psychological condition that can affect anyone, regardless of age, gender, or background, anxiety has become a pervasive concern in today’s fast-paced society.

The consequences of unchecked anxiety can be severe, impacting not only individuals’ mental health but their overall well-being.

For those dealing with anxiety, the struggle is often concealed from casual observers.

PHOTO: FREEPIK

Its incapacitating impact can disrupt everyday existence, strain interpersonal connections, hinder professional growth and in certain instances, escalate into more profound mental health issues, including depression.

Alarming statistics underscore the severity of the issue, as the World Health Organization (WHO) reports that anxiety disorders rank among the most widespread mental health challenges worldwide.

As of 2023, the WHO referenced data from the Global Health Data Exchange, which estimated that approximately four per cent of the world’s population grapples with various forms of anxiety disorders.

This equates to a staggering 301 million individuals globally, solidifying anxiety as the foremost prevalent mental health disorder.

Amid a global spotlight on mental health, facilities such as the Health Promotion Centre (HPC) stand at the forefront of the campaign to conquer anxiety.

They are dedicated to ensuring that individuals facing mental health challenges never have to face their struggles in solitude.

HPC provides not only essential resources and support but also create a welcoming environment where individuals can openly address their mental health concerns, fostering a sense of community and shared resilience.

The goal is to shatter the stigma surrounding mental health issues and promote a society where everyone can access the help they need without judgement or isolation.

The HPC is taking proactive measures to detect the initial signs of anxiety and offer essential support to those in need to address the issue on mental health.

One effective strategy involves organising informative sessions and gatherings for those at risk of anxiety and enlightening them about the profound impact of this condition on mental health.

The HPC conducted a recent session for the elderly population in the Belait District with similar initiatives spanning across the nation.

Senior citizens take part in an activity to raise awareness on the different types of anxiety disorders.
PHOTO: DANIEL LIM

A PATH TO WELL-BEING

A dedicated staff nurse at the HPC under the Ministry of Health (MoH) Dayangku Salawati binti Pengiran Haji Aji emphasised the universality of mental health, transcending age barriers.

“We aim to underscore that mental health is relevant to all individuals, aligning with this year’s World Mental Health theme observed on October 10, which champions mental health as a universal human right,” she emphasised.

The topics covered encompassed an exploration of the signs and symptoms of anxiety, a complex condition characterised by heightened worry, fear and uncertainty.

Additionally, the discussion delved into various factors that can impact one’s mental health, which include genetics, psychological influences, chronic illnesses, stress, environmental conditions, as well as medication, drug and alcohol abuse, among others.

In specific situations, these factors may precipitate anxiety, evident through signs like struggling to manage emotions, heightened frustration and a tendency to overanalyse situations.

Furthermore, physical manifestations such as restlessness, headaches, rapid heartbeat, disruptions in sleep patterns and an overwhelming sense of apprehension are common indicators of anxiety.

A notable challenge in tackling anxiety is its tendency to remain concealed or unspoken, as individuals often suffer silently, struggling to express their genuine emotions.

To break free from this cycle, one effective approach is to maintain a holistic lifestyle that promotes both physical and mental well-being.

“Maintaining a consistent sleep schedule, and keeping fit with frequent exercise is one of the many steps that can be taken to maintain a healthy lifestyle.  

“In addition, partaking in a hobby that you love can also help to imbue a sense of appreciation for oneself,” noted Dayangku Salawati.

Nurse Dayangku Salawati binti Pengiran Haji Aji from the Health Promotion Centre. PHOTO: DANIEL LIM

The staff nurse also shared additional recommendations, such as seeking assistance from family members and, when needed, reaching out to professionals via Talian Harapan 145 (Hope Line 145).

 

REACHING OUT FOR SUPPORT

Operated under the MoH’s purview, Hope Line 145 is administered by certified mental health professionals, authorised by the MoH.

It extends four essential services to the public, which include furnishing information regarding mental health services available in the Sultanate.

The hotline also serves as a vital platform for offering advice and counselling on managing circumstances that might lead to mental or emotional disruptions.

It creates a secure environment for callers to openly discuss their concerns while ensuring the confidentiality of all calls and personal information.

 

EMPOWERING WITH PRACTICAL TECHNIQUES

Furthermore, the staff nurse imparted a series of exercises to the elderly participants during the briefing, outlining small yet effective steps to reduce anxiety.

Among these techniques are brief breathing exercises designed to slow down heart rate and promote a sense of calm, addressing anxiety symptoms.

Participants were also encouraged to express their concerns and anxieties on paper, facilitating mutual understanding between the writers and the HPC.

Additionally, a group gathering session served as a vital platform for participants to forge a supportive community.

Through these straightforward exercises, Dayangku Salawati aims to equip the elderly with valuable tools for managing anxiety.

In a world that places growing importance on mental health, facilities like the HPC are at the forefront of the fight against anxiety, ensuring that individuals don’t have to face their challenges alone. – Daniel Lim

 

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