PSYCSTA’s “WoMental: A Journey” forum discusses women’s issues

By Maisarah Mijar

GOMBAK, 10 March 2018 – In conjunction with International Women’s Day, the Secretariat of Psychology IIUM (PSYCSTA) hosted a forum “WoMental: A Journey” on Thursday (8 March) at the campus here to discuss issues relating to women.

“WoMental: A Journey” is a co-action with 1Moment4Them, a humanitarian movement, supported and carried out by the youth. The forum centred on discussions regarding obstacles faced by women nowadays, particularly challenges working in a male dominant field, and the problems of mental health suffered by women.

Speakers at the forum comprised a field expert on mental health, Dr. Hazli Zakaria, who is a clinical psychiatrist from UKMM, a recovered patient, Anita Abu Bakar, who also happens to be the founder of Mental Illness Awareness and Support Association (MIASA), and Shenabilla, a social advocate. The moderator was a psychology student, Ainina Sofia Adnan.

During the forum, Dr. Hazli highlighted the reasons women were confronted with mental illnesses more than men because of circumstances like chemical changes in their hormones, pressure from family, workloads, traumatic life event, and their surroundings.

Anita, meanwhile, shared her experiences facing rock-bottoms in life. At first she did not even recognise what was wrong with her until she was told to meet a psychiatrist. She was then diagnosed with anxiety disorder.

“The best support for patients comes from other patients, hence the birth of MIASA,” Anita said. She formed MIASA with the aim to end the stigma that people have when they hear the word ‘mental health’ and also to shorten the suffering and journey that patients have and to tell them that they are not alone.

“I was a strong, independent woman but then I had flu, I had tremendous cough, I had hemourrhoids and all doctors told me the same thing—there was not any problem with me, I was fine,” Shenabilla added, sharing her experience when she felt so restless after she was diagnosed with one of the mental health diseases.

The audiences were advised to always care for their spiritual food and ritual – perform daily prayers, recite the Quran and always hold on to Allah’s rope for there is peace.

Shenabilla also advised women to go out of the house, get out of bed and mingle around, and not to let sadness linger for too long.

Dr. Hazli advised that whenever someone approaches to vent their frustrations, “you must listen to them and not give advice because they refuse to listen to any advice, they just want someone to listen to them”. “In this situation, you need to “be cautious of suicidal thoughts, do not belittle them.”

Life is so much more than just to strive for the best, it also comprises all the elements—sad or bad. “So hang in there and PCYSTA should be congratulated for hosting this event, where people can come together to learn more about the topics they should know. We look forward to similar event in the future,” said one of the participants ***

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