DISTED College#SchoolofPsychology and Khidmat Masyarakat in collaboration with Family Health Development Association (FHDA) organise the Horizon: Sex and Sexuality Workshop on 19th November, from 8.30am-1.30pm at DISTED College main campus, Level 2, R300F.
Friends and family are welcome. Registration is FREE and light refreshment will be served. Please contact Alexandra @ 012-4811 576 and Carmen @ 012-5275 038 for information.
Our college is proud to have organized the 1st Symposium on Child & Adolescent Mental Health Penang at our main campus recently (April 9 & 10). The main speakers of the 2-day event consist of a distinguished panel of experts in the field of child & family psychology, psychiatric care and counseling from Australia, Singapore and Malaysia, while the opening ceremony of the event was being officiated by the Chairman of Wawasan Education Foundation, Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon, who is also the Pro-Chancellor of Wawasan Open University.
Story by Jasniza Johari, Ooi Jiunn Wei and Wong Yee Lean. Photos courtesy of Ms Foo Pei Lynn.
In today’s society, it is extremely vital to possess awareness on issues often related to adolescents and teenagers such as bullying and suicide. DISTED’s Bachelor of Psychology (Hons) programme students were fortunate to be able to volunteer in a half-day workshop on anger, bullying and suicide for teenagers held at SMK Air Itam on the 10th of May 2014. The workshop was jointly organised by several NGOs under the Mental Health Coalition of Penang (MHCP) and led by facilitators Miss Margarita Malayapillay of the Penang Association of Counselling and Psychology (PACP), Miss Seow Hooi Cheng of the Centre for Creative Arts Therapy (CCAT) as well as Clinical Psychologist and DISTED School of Psychology Programme Coordinator Miss Foo Pei Lynn. Several alumni from the School of Psychology were also present to volunteer at the workshop.
The workshop aimed at providing awareness to students, with particular emphasis on the three main issues: anger, suicide and bullying. The workshop gave students, who were mainly 13 – 17 year olds, a better understanding on what these issues were, recognising occurrences of these issues as well as how to manage them. The workshop started off with a Laughter Yoga session, conducted by Miss Sukhveer Kaur. Volunteers from the School of Psychology then helped facilitate several activities with the students who were divided into three groups. In the workshop, students were encouraged to generate their own ideas on what each issue meant to them with the aid of materials and activities. “It’s a rather different approach to awareness than just spoon-feeding students with information. It’s definitely more interactive this way,” said Ooi Jiunn Wei, a second-year student, of the workshop.
In the ‘Bullying’ group, students were given an insight on how bullying surfaces in different forms such as physical bullying and cyber-bullying. Facilitators aided the students by staging a skit, and subsequently prompted the students to generate situational examples of bullying through drawings. The group, led by Miss Margarita, then encouraged students to explore feelings of those involved in the act of bullying and what they may do about it. Psychology student and volunteer Winnie Wong commented, “Students were encouraged to understand the feelings of the bully, the victim and the bystander, such as fear and anger. From there, we tried to get the students to think of ways to deal with situations of bullying. At the end of the session, we got the students to come up in front and tell the ‘bully’ that bullying is wrong through our interactive mini-play.”
The ‘Suicide’ group, led by Miss Foo Pei Lynn, also engaged with the school students in a similar fashion. In smaller groups, they were asked to identify several possible causes of suicide amongst teenagers and adolescents through drawings and words. The facilitators and volunteers then encouraged discussion on detecting suicidal tendencies in young people. This followed with a briefing by Miss Foo Pei Lynn on how to cope with thoughts of suicide and how to help others who display suicidal behaviour. Second-year student Yee Sue Yi commented, “It was very knowledgeable, not only for the students but for us facilitators as well. It’s important to always refer to a mental health professional for help when it comes to issues such as suicide.”
A similar hands-on approach was used in the ‘Anger’ group led by Miss Cheng. The first part of the session required the students to perform a physical activity to represent feelings of tension. Then, the students were encouraged to write or illustrate their own examples of situations involving anger in a comic-like sequence. The students were also given materials such as newspapers and balloons and were asked to create a single object to represent anger. At the end of the session, the facilitator and volunteers encouraged the students to come out and act out situations that led to anger as well as the emotions experienced after the release of anger. “I felt that the message that we were trying to send out was meaningful,” said first-year student volunteer Wang Shaven. “Anger is a natural emotion that we feel at times, but the key here is to be able to control it. Miss Cheng used an analogy to explain how anger may damage us if not released or controlled – if you blow too much air into a balloon, it will definitely explode!”
The volunteers had a very enriching and informative workshop with the facilitators as well as the students of SMK Air Itam. “It’s great to have exposure like this, especially being in the field of Psychology. It’s also a new experience for most of us to interact with adolescents and teenagers,” commented Lee Phei Wei, DISTED School of Psychology alumna and current third-year student at HELP University in Kuala Lumpur. Second-year student Jasniza Johari also mentioned, “It’s great that the MHCP initiated this workshop for teenagers. It’s much needed in times like these where cases of bullying and suicide are so common amongst their age group. It was also beneficial for us Psychology students to be able to work with professionals in the field to help create awareness.”
By Jasniza Johari. Photos provided by Miss Foo Pei-Lynn and Koh Ti Ming.
The people of Penang had a blast lending their voices for mental health awareness at the state’s celebrations on the 18th of October. An interactive concert was held at DISTED College’s Yeap Chor Ee campus, featuring Jana Stanfield, an award-winning singer-songwriter from the United States and her famed vocalist partner Nathen Aswell from Canada. Various groups under the Mental Health Coalition of Penang (MHCP) also organised several activities for the event, which was open to the general public. This was also a golden event for the Bachelor of Psychology (Hons) students of DISTED, as they got a chance to facilitate certain activities and also get in touch with the mental health network in Penang.
The event kicked off with a Laughter Yoga session, facilitated by Jana Stanfield herself. Once the participants started to warm up, roaring sounds of laughter were evident throughout the grounds of DISTED College! This merry activity was then followed by an ice-breaking session, where participants were divided into groups. Ice-breaking consisted of a short introductory sharing session, followed by fun games aimed to encourage bonding. The Psychology students were tasked with facilitating games such as “Wind Blows”, a fun-fact spin on the popular game Musical Chairs; and “The Cowboy Game”, where participants were tested on their speed and accuracy of remembering names. Participants had a jolly time in getting to know each other in the process.
The poster and banner-making activity commenced soon after. Participants were given a whole array of art materials and encouraged to let their creative side take over! All they had to do was to express their “voices” through art and share their messages for the mental health community. These messages were aimed at inducing awareness to the general public on issues concerning mental wellbeing. Even young participants had a great time expressing their support for mental health through art – one boy sketched a poster of Captain America as it was his wish to help others in need just like the superhero himself.
The many colourful posters and banners displayed in the Hall provided a warm, welcoming spirit to the community that went full-force once the keynote concert began. The concept behind “Let Your Voice Be Heard” was very novel as it included dialogues with several speakers between intervals of live music by Jana Stanfield and Nathen Aswell. Jana played a cover of the song “Secrets” by pop star Mary Lambert among others, and narrated her own experiences throughout the set. Nathen played his unique bass-guitar-piano composite instrument (known as the NS Stick) to the tune of the songs he wrote, mainly centred on positive messages. The crowd sang along and clapped jubilantly throughout the concert. In between songs, several speakers were invited to briefly share on the challenges, experiences and messages for the mental health community and general public. The eye-opening session was then followed by a sharing on the posters and banners made earlier. In groups, participants got to tell stories behind their artworks and share their hopes for the future of Malaysians regardless of their mental health background.
The event concluded with a short prize-giving session to the winners of the Mental Health Quiz organized by Dr. Lynne Yong. The quiz tested participants on their knowledge of mental disorders and many were surprised to find that many key international figures and celebrities also experience issues with mental wellbeing.
Altogether, the participants went home with pleasant experiences and a renewed spirit to continue lending their voices for awareness on mental wellbeing. Feedbacks provided by student facilitators were also positive and encouraging. “It was thought-provoking to listen to others’ experiences with mental health disorders, especially surrounding the stigma in public,” said DISTED student Sivaaruban Prabakaran. “I believe everyone has a part to play in increasing awareness of such issues.”. Student Tan Kelven also added, “The event is really a good opportunity for us students. Not only do we get to meet others who are active in the field, but there is also valuable experience to be learned in facilitating groups.”
All-in-all, the lively combined voices of all participants contributed to the event’s success and has certainly become a vital milestone for the Penang mental health community and DISTED College.