Student Life

It Feels Like Forever - Students Speak Up About Their Mental Health Issues

Published by Afterschool.my on Sep 27, 2022, 12:04 pm

It’s not the kind of thing that happens overnight. Without you realising, it infiltrates you; suddenly, your energy starts depleting, and the colours around you seem dull. Days go by, and you feel like you're chasing time; getting out of your bed feels heavy as if an invisible weight is pushing you down. You feel lonely, yet you don't want anyone around you. The next thing you know, you realise you're far from feeling okay. Your mental health is evidently, utterly, completely unwell.

Did you know that mental health problems among Malaysian students are more common than you think?

I was hopeful when I was going through my diploma, and I passed with flying colours; However, things started to feel difficult for me, and I ended up flopping during my degree as I couldn't get out of bed. Even taking a shower feels like a chore,” explains Aizat Roslan, a 23-year-old Accounting student. Diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder and ADHD, Aizat says he has dealt with this feeling since high school, but it worsened when an unexpected event hits his life. 

Dania Husna, a student majoring in Psychology, says having mental health problems profoundly affects her studies and overall quality of life. “I was slacking in my studies and submitting my assignments past their due dates, as even the simplest tasks like eating felt so heavy on me to deal with. On top of that, I constantly felt tired, and talking to people could easily drain me out.

Band-aids to Invisible Wounds

It feels like forever, and no matter what you do, it doesn't feel like there is a solution to pull yourself out of that quicksand. Blind optimism can add salt to the wound, but there are certainly ways you can try to ease your mental health problem little by little and cope through your student life. 

1. Do What You Love

When it gets too heavy, I will watch youtube and play computer games after doing my assignments,” says Aizat. Ensuring you take time off your studies by filling it with activities you enjoy can help you regulate your emotions.

2. Seek Social Support

Spending quality time with others enables you to gain support and strength within interpersonal connections. Sujiyitha, a Psychology alumni from HELP University, shares that she “enjoys spending time with loved ones by going out for movies with them or simply having a nice meal together” heps her feel a lot better during times she is feeling burnt out.”

3. Get Enough Sleep 

Pulling an all-nighter can increase your depressive mood, so you must get enough sleep for your brain to function well the next day. 

4. Enhance Study Experience 

Although going out of your room is the last thing you want to do, being in a new study environment can boost your productivity and enhance your overall mood. Dania mentions that apart from finding a great study environment, she would invite her friends to study together to reinforce her understanding of specific topics.

5. Create a Structured Schedule

When I am aware that my plate is heavy with too many unfinished tasks, I begin to list them according to their due dates and then work accordingly so I won't feel overwhelmed,” Sujiyitha shares.

6. Therapy

When all fails, and your poor mental health condition is getting more chronic, going for therapy can be the best solution. Your therapist can help you identify coping methods that suit you and insights on triggers to help you better understand yourself. 

A Lack Of Access

Although going for therapy is the best coping strategy for mental health problems among students, a lack of access to it makes it difficult for students to consider it an option. “I love the therapy sessions that I gained through a local clinic, but the downside is that it's too expensive, which has caused me to decrease the frequency of my visits," Aizat shares. Dania mentions, “Students nowadays are more vocal and self-aware about their mental health issues, but these services could be out of people's budget, and the more affordable centres have an influx of clients coming in which could be hard to accommodate, such as in public hospitals.” 

Sujiyitha expresses her fair share of frustration about the availability of Malaysia's mental health services. “In my experience, appointments through government health centres are not so frequent when psychotherapy has to be done weekly. In private centres, it's undeniably pricey. Many friends of mine are in desperate need of help, but they cannot afford it, or the access is rather inconvenient,  from admission all the way to the waiting period. When one is feeling mentally demotivated, how are they willing to attend an arduous service to get access? They easily lose motivation to seek help in the first place, unless one is privileged enough to gain quick access through costly private therapy centres. But the question is, how many of us here are that privileged?” 

Some private therapy centres offer cheaper-than-average options, like RELATE Malaysia, Thrive Well, Cara-Cara Mental Fitness and HumanKind Community Counselling, which ranges between RM45-RM80 per session. But, of course, if those options are still way out of your budget as a student, you can opt for the counselling services from your university that’s available, as they're usually free. “I had active therapy sessions that were offered by HELP's CPCS (Centre for Psychological and Counselling Services),” Sujiyitha shares. “Hence, through therapy, I have picked up effective coping mechanisms which I currently take practice off like mindful breathing and a lot of gratitude journaling.”

Dealing with mental health issues through student life can be extremely debilitating; but with the right coping strategy and support system, you can find ways to manage the weight and make small progress, one day at a time.

(Be gentle on yourself, dear student.)

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