That is the slogan for HELP World Mental Health Day 2013.
We are a group of passionate and dedicated students mostly from the Department of Psychology in HELP University, Malaysia trying to raise awareness regarding mental health. Our mission is to advocate mental health awareness with education.
We also have a vision to destigmatize the public in Malaysia about mental health issues. Our theme this year is “Addiction”, we aim to enlighten the public about what addiction actually is, encourage people who are suffering from addiction to seek professional help, and lastly to educate people on the proper addiction prevention methods.
Society today relies so much on their smartphones, being in a one-way interaction with their devices without engaging in a face-to-face communication. We find such behaviour bizarre and unhealthy hence to curb that, we came up with our first campaign, the “Technological Addiction Awareness” campaign.
We approached students and staffs in our University and got them to pledge to not use any technological devices while doing one out of the three — while walking or eating or driving, for a month in order to cultivate a habit and hopefully a lifestyle. We had a total of 5738 pledges within three days! We also managed to reach out to our community when we were given the opportunity to appear on our local radio station, Red FM. In an interview, we spoke about the dangers of technology addiction, discussed how it can adversely affect our mental health and reminded the public to not take this matter lightly.
We also wanted to raise awareness on the risks of substance abuse such as drugs, chemicals and alcohol hence we did a few road shows. We visited secondary schools and invited a speaker from PENGASIH, a non-profit organization in Malaysia. He shared his experiences battling alcohol addiction and drug abuse, the days he spent behind bars and how he frequented the rehabilitation centre. We hoped that these school children can find inspiration from his experiences because he is proof that we can get rid of our addiction with the right mind set, goals and determination.
To commemorate the official World Mental Health Day, we hosted our own World Mental Health Day launch in our University. Highly distinguished Guest of Honors such as the Honorary Secretary of the Malaysian Psychiatric Association, Dr. Hazli Zakaria and Deputy President of the Malaysian Mental Health Association, Dr. Andrew Mohanraj were present to show us their support.
The launch included an interactive exhibition which had an array of activities in which many could participate in. To entertain the crowd, there were many performances featuring local guest artist alongside our own production and song mob teams.
The most enjoyable moment of the launch was the “Date or Dare” fundraising event which involved students who were either auctioned off as dates or made to do certain dares. All the funds raised during this event will be put towards our main event which will be held in end of October. From the profits raised, the proceeds will be donated to charity homes and rehabilitation centres to subsidize the rehabilitation costs for addicts.
Our launch also made headline in our local newspaper, the Star Newspaper- http://www.thestar.com.my/News/Community/2013/10/05/Putting-an-end-to-addiction-Students-to-put-up-musical-in-conjunction-with-World-Mental-Health-Day.aspx
We have been coming up with a few activities counting down to the official World Mental Health Day on the 10th October. One of them is the #WMHDla, our marketing initiative to relate mental health awareness with anything that is in trend and alongside creating a more Malaysian focused concept because of the slang. Another is our positive message chain, an act of getting the public to write encouraging messages to those suffering from addiction, reminding them that they are not alone.
At the end of the day, we hoped to have spread the message that addiction is a choice and you can choose to break out of it.
We have a full line up of exciting activities to come so to keep up with our events do visit our Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/HELPWorldMentalHealthDay
C.H.O.I.C.E. means Choose Hope Once, It Changes Everything