Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
WHAT IS YOUR SPECIFIC AREA OF INTEREST IN YOUTH MENTAL HEALTH ADVOCACY?
Mental awareness advocacy
WHY IS YOUTH MENTAL HEALTH ADVOCACY IMPORTANT TO YOU?
After witnessing the impact of struggling with mental health (in part due to a lack of awareness) amongst my peers, I understood that raising awareness is crucial both to spread information and to destigmatise mental health conditions so that people feel free to seek help.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE MENTAL HEALTH IN YOUR COMMUNITY?
There is a modest awareness of mental health, especially among younger people thanks to social media. However they are not able to seek targeted treatment usually due to a combination of cost, logistics and stigma. Besides that, only the more common mental health disorders like depression or anorexia are well-known.
PROPOSED FELLOWSHIP PROJECT
Project: Language and translation
Language and translation are significant barriers to mental health access and advice. Much of the literature online is written in English, for English speakers, and this is a significant problem in Malaysia where a majority of the population do not speak fluent English. With such diversity of language, communicating clearly is difficult and time consuming. Many young people could be suffering in silence because there are few resources available online to tell them that what they are facing is not just ‘in their head’.
The goal of this project is to achieve translation of basic mental health resources into at least six languages (not including English to spread awareness of common mental health issues. A working list of the most common languages spoken in Malaysia would be Malay, Mandarin, Tamil, Hindi, Iban, and Kadazan-dusun.
The project would involve preparing a summary of common mental health issues, their symptoms, potential treatments, and lastly links, contacts and locations to seek help and then translating it into the target language. The information would be shared on printed leaflets and online.
An awareness of the most common mental health issues would help young people understand that their issue is not something caused by them being ‘lazy’ or ‘unmotivated’. It would reduce the stigma of confiding in friends and family about one’s problems and feelings. I hope the impact of this would be for young people to have a moment of realisation where they understand they are not alone and there are many people who have the same issues, and help is available. Help is not necessarily always accessible, but it is available.