Make self-care a daily priority

Dr Gerard Louis, conducted two sessions on What is Mental Health Day and Mental Health in an Unequal World, while Eric Bryan Amaladalas. shared on Self-Care and Mental Health.

Sep 23, 2022

Attendees browsing through the exhibition on Erik Erikson’s Eight Stages of Development at the Church of St Francis of Assisi, Cheras on September 10, 2022.

Dr Gerard Louis, conducted two sessions on What is Mental Health Day and Mental Health in an Unequal World, while Eric Bryan Amaladalas. shared on Self-Care and Mental Health.

Dr Gerard said mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood through adulthood. It affects how we think, feel and act. It determines how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices.

External factors like the onset of COVID-19, wars, climate and natural disasters, recession, and the rising cost of living contribute to mental health status.

On the day’s theme, Gerard said the unequal world involved multiple factors like income inequality, ethnic minority, gender norms, rural vs urban, education, caste, sexual orientation, heterosexual vs LGBTQ, and normal vs special needs persons, all of which contribute to people’s mental health status.

While Gerard presented mental health at a macro level, Eric broached the topic on the self.
He said the more society becomes industrialised the more it affects mental health.

“How did we get so busy? Eric asked, “When busyness becomes consuming, many of us know deep down that something’s got to give – but we are too busy to figure out what that change should be.”

Remember, self-care is not a quick fix but a lifestyle. It is small acts we do every day that helps make the change. To date, several mobile apps can help regulate caring for oneself like Calm, Headspace, Strides, and Myfitness, to name a few.

The workshops carried out in the four major languages included topics like Mindfulness by SFA parish priest Fr Paul Cheong OFM Cap, Parent-child relationship (Mandarin) by Lucia Teoh Hoay Sim, Addictions by Jimmy Ong, Suicide Prevention by Kenny Lim, Mental Health Awareness and Self Care (Tamil) by Alison Fernandez, Understanding Child’s Emotionality (Mandarin) by Eunice Yee Tze Yu, Pengurusan Stress by Fajar Santoadi, Mental Health Issues: An Overview (Tamil) by Yamuna Sundarasakaran and The Power of Listening (Mandarin) by Eliza Lee Lai Fong; followed by a forum on Post Pandemic Challenges to Mental Health.

In his closing remarks, Archdiocesan Mental Health Ministry’s (AMHM) Ecclesiastical Assistant, Fr Philip Chua thanked Archbishop Julian Leow, Fr Paul Cheong and SFA parishioners, the speakers, panellist, collaboration partner Beacon of Hope St Francis of Assisi, the organising team, and attendees.

A registered counsellor, Fr Philip said, many aspects of mental health have been challenged; and in 2019, globally, an estimated one in eight people were living with a mental disorder. However, the services, skills, and funding available for mental health remain in short supply and fall far below what is needed, especially in low- and middle-income countries. The COVID-19 pandemic created a global crisis for mental health, fuelling short and long-term stresses, and undermining the mental health of millions. Estimates put the rise in anxiety and depressive disorders at more than 25 per cent during the first year of the pandemic. Yet, the availability of mental health services is severely disrupted and the treatment gap for mental health conditions continues to widen. Stigma and discrimination continue to be a barrier to social inclusion and access to the right care.

“More than ever, we need to make mental health not just a global priority, but a personal one as well. It starts and ends with us, so let’s all be part of the solution. We should encourage people with mental health issues to seek help because, through early detection, we can ensure that mental illness does not have to be a life sentence,” said the assistant priest of the Church of the Holy Family, Kajang.

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