WORDS LIM TECK CHOON
In conjunction with International Women’s Day, the Mental Illness Awareness and Support Association (MIASA) hosted a half-day event at Royale Chulan, The Curve (Kuala Lumpur) on March 11, 2023.
TRANSCENDING ALL BOUNDARIES: BE REVOLUTIONARY
The theme of International Women’s Day this year, ‘Transcending All Boundaries: Be Revolutionary’, calls for the championing of efforts that will empower women in spite of continuing challenges faced across many sectors of society.
The Founder and President of MIASA, Puan Anita Abu Bakar, outlines the different barriers faced by women due to various cultural and societal norms, which are further compounded and exacerbated for those who have a particular disability or struggles with their mental health.
“When women find it hard to talk about difficult feelings, they tend to internalize them,” she says. “This can lead to depression, eating disorders, and self-harm.”
She shares that past statistics indicated that around 1 in 5 women faces a mental health challenge such as depression and anxiety.
“So, today, we want to let every woman know that there is help, there is support, there is recovery when facing mental health issues. No one has to struggle alone. You don’t have to struggle alone,” she asserts.
BREAKING DOWN BARRIERS ACROSS ALL GENDERS, BECAUSE MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES DON’T DISCRIMINATE
While MIASA champions and supports the efforts to empower women across various social and political sectors of life in Malaysia, the association also is well aware that mental health issues do not discriminate based on one’s gender.
Hence, to achieve the goals and objectives of the association, Puan Anita highlights that broad discussions of gender stereotypes and gender equity should not be restricted to only barriers faced by women.
“In our work within the mental health field in particular, we have a front-row seat to witness the harmful effects gender stereotypes can have not only on women but men too, namely when it comes to expressing one’s feelings. For example, we know that many young boys are implicitly taught to believe that they need to ‘man up’ and that crying is a sign of weakness for example,” she explains.
“So let’s take this opportunity to acknowledge those barriers and boundaries as well, and ensure that all of us, man and woman alike, work harmoniously together to ensure gender equity from all sides,” she concludes.
LAUNCH OF YOUNG ADVOCATES FOR MENTAL HEALTH PROGRAMME TO ACHIEVE GENDER EQUITY THROUGH A ZERO-STIGMA GENERATION
This inaugural programme from MIASA will build on the importance of building a generation free of stigma and discrimination—the zero stigma generation.
The MIASA Young Advocates for Mental Health programme is a 6-month programme that provides a platform for young people to:
- Learn about mental health and mental health conditions
- Understand the stigma and discrimination around mental health
- Acquire qualities and skills of an effective advocate
- Receive access to the different resources that support people struggling with mental health issues.
“It is a programme that also goes beyond acquiring knowledge; it provides participants hands-on experience with mental health peers through the shadowing sessions,” Puan Anita further elaborates.
For more information on MIASA and its mental health services as well as programmes, you can visit their website by clicking here (link opens in a new tab).