13 October 2018 – The first week of October every year marks Mental Health Awareness Week, and in conjunction with this, IMU Peer Support Club and IMU Psychology Club collaborated to host the Mental Health Forum 2018 at the auditorium of the International Medical University’s (IMU) campus in Bukit Jalil. This year, the forum was centered on the pressing issue of bullying with the overarching theme of “Take A Stand”, representing the objective of the event to comprehend the psychology of bullying and underline effective ways to deal with it in contemporary society. The audience was made up of staff and students from IMU and other universities around the area, namely HELP University, Taylor’s University and Cyberjaya University College of Medical Sciences among others. The event started off with an opening address by the organiser, Sharon Theresa before it was officiated by the advisor, Ho Sheau Huey who is also a counsellor at the University. The first talk of the day was conducted by IMU Psychology Lecturer and Programme Director, Alexius Cheang. The topic of his talk revolved around the underlying psychological mechanisms that influence the act of bullying and how it impacts the parties involved. Highlights included were the types of bullying observed in various communities, statistical records of the occurrence of bullying across demographics and vital traits one should have when facing bullies. He particularly underlined the importance a bystander who witnesses acts of bullying, saying “Bystanders who merely observe from the sidelines may experience psychological struggles from witnessing someone being bullied. What bystanders don’t realise is that simple actions like recording such incidents as evidence or even trying to pacify the bully can go a long way to reducing the chances of bullying recurring. We should empower bystanders to build the confidence to take a stand and become “upstanders” instead.” He further elaborated on why assertiveness and not aggression is pivotal, especially for children susceptible to being bullied, in resisting the threat posed by perpetrators of bullying and for potential victims to gain more self-assurance. After the talk, the audience engaged in an interactive quiz session which involved answering questions pertaining to the speaker’s viewpoints. Participants also explored booths set up around the 4th floor which showcased facts about bullying as well as psychology-related displays and activities. The second talk of the forum was given by Felix Kong Hon Sen, an advocate and solicitor with 20 years of experience under his belt. In his talk, Felix related to the audience the existing laws and regulations in Malaysia’s constitution concerning diverse types of bullying in different settings and how the category of bully cases is verified by the judicial system and classified accordingly. One aspect of bullying particularly focused upon by Felix was cyber bullying which he stressed was the most prominent form of bullying in the current technological era, emphasizing that we should be vigilant of the content of our social media posts as even the mildest criticism of another could be interpreted as an attack on that individual. He encouraged audience members to share their views and experiences associated with bullying and offered his insights on how they are approached from a legislative point of view. “I think it’s important to realise that the regulatory framework in the law can help in dealing with everyday occurrences of bullying no matter how diverse they may be,” said Felix. The event concluded with a presentation of tokens of appreciation to the speakers by Ho Sheau Huey. Mental Health Forum 2018 – Take A Stand was a major accomplishment thanks to the cooperation between IMU Peer Support Club and IMU Psychology Club in bringing awareness of mental health issues that pervade in society with bullying as the fundamental topic. It was a significant occasion which gave the audience and organisers the opportunity to enrich themselves with stimulating and beneficial knowledge as conveyed by the esteemed speakers. It is anticipated that next year’s forum will be even better and exceed expectations with the aim of connecting with the community through dialogue about other crucial mental health topics.
Related articles: 2017: Mental Health Week at IMU Clinical Campus 2016: Increasing Understanding of Mental Illness during IMU’s Mental Health Week 2015: Educating the Public on Mental Health on World Mental Health Day