By Nazifa Ramailan
GOMBAK, 6 September 2021: With the rising number of IIUM students affected by the COVID-19 virus, IIUM Student Union (IIUMSU) regards the circumstance as critical, especially on the mental wellbeing of the students.
On 15 July recently, Mental Health COVID-19 Task Force was established by the Office of Welfare IIUM Student Union, in collaboration with Counselling and Career Services Centre (CCSC) and Council of Mahallah Principals (COPs).
The task force was coordinated by Aiman Faris, with the help of the key members including Firdaus, Zaim Nur, Aidil, Izzati, Zaimin, Dahlia and Nisa. The task force was closely supervised by Madam Syuhada Munir, Senior Counsellor from CCSC and Asst. Prof. Dr. Zahirani, former Chairman of COPs.
According to the Co-Founder Mental Health COVID–19 Task Force IIUMSU, Zaim Nur, throughout three months since its establishment, several initiatives have been implemented to provide assistance to the affected students, specifically on their emotional aspect.
Firstly, an Esports mobile legend tournament, which was also a collaborative programme with GamesMy Esports as well as movie night have been organised and the participation from the students was encouraging.
Not only that, to provide continuous support for students who were being quarantined, a few members of the task force have been assigned to several cohorts to spread daily motivational quotes, posters and games twice a day.
Zaim further said that these initiatives are significant as the prime objective is to convince the students that they are not alone during this tough time, aside from providing a platform for students to reach out for help.
By having the task force members in the cohort groups, they have come to a realisation that many students were disturbed physically and their mental health deteriorated as a result of the extension of quarantine period.
“At times they expressed their frustrations, dissatisfactions in the group and at that point we will play our role by consoling and validating their emotions either in the group or personally,” said Zaim.
Zaim disclosed that he came up with the plans to reach out to students when he was in his fourth quarantine. At that time, he noticed Madam Syuhada often forwarded posters and positive quotes on WhatsApp to deliver emotional support to the students, provided that being in a quarantine was like once in a lifetime at that moment.
During his fourth quarantine, there was an outbreak in the campus which resulted in the overwhelming number of students been quarantined. The alarming situation had caused the attention to go to the COVID-19 operation for swab and student transfer, yet less went to the students’ mental wellbeing.
“Even before the pandemic took place, mental health issues have always been one of the biggest concerns among the IIUM community,” Zaim added.
Zaim then reached out to Madam Syuhada to address the concern, and at the same time, he also went to Firdaus and Izzati, the IIUMSU welfare officers. The meet-up led to the establishment of the task force, which was also joined by the IIUMSU staff members as well as volunteers, and being closely supervised and trained by CCSC.
Zaim emphasised that the commendable management of IIUMSU task force when it comes to reckoning of students’ mental health in quarantine comes from their constant engagements through meetings and discussions albeit virtually.
“I believe none of us were prepared for this but Alhamdulillah all of us have these shared values to help our brothers and sisters to ease them from discomfort and to provide solace with us,” he added.
The actions taken by IIUMSU task force are eminently crucial as to have an overall good health, one has to pay attention to the mental wellbeing as well.
Zaim mentioned that their initiatives are among the opening measures and stepping stone towards a more understanding and compassionate on mental health among IIUM community.
The negative stigma towards mental health issues should be ceased and every student who suffers from mental health must be validated as every one of us experiences it differently, depending on how good our coping mechanisms and resilience level are.
As mentioned by Zaim, even though the task force is currently focusing on the students who are being quarantined and infected, the target groups may be expanded to a larger community, considering the spike of mental health cases.
IIUMSU’s task force also welcomes any collaboration to promote mental health awareness and to break the stigma surrounding it. The target is to assist the students in wider scope such as in terms of academic, financial, health and emotion.
Zaim added: “When it comes to students’ welfare, it is the prime responsibility of Welfare Office IIUMSU and with the continuation of current collaboration with CCSC and COPs, various instances mentioned previously can be catered together.”
When it comes to mental health issues, IIUMSU will provide full support to any plans and initiatives that will ensure students’ wellbeing and will surely help the students to seek treatment from the experts if needed.
On top of that, the ongoing activities will be developed and extended to larger communities in the future. Zaim assured: “In these unprecedented times, no one is not affected by it and it is vital for every member of IIUM community and IIUMSU to play our part in assisting our friends in need through the means available currently.”
Students may reach out to any of the IIUMSU officers or call their hotline at 0364213239 should they have any urgent inquiries.***
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