On the 3rd of March at 6:30 p.m., a group of individuals sat in a circle in F1A09 to have a discussion centred on social relationships in dealing with mental health issues. This discussion was part of the Mind Matters Too! event, a series of mental health awareness talks, workshops, and discussions, which was made possible as a result of a collaboration between UNMC Fitness Club and Psychology Society. The event spans six weeks, having begun on the 18th of February, and is scheduled to end on the 24th of March.
This event aims to raise mental health awareness while reducing the stigma against mental illness. It also hopes to provide solutions and help for those with mental health issues, while the discussions and talks are meant to create a safe space for event attendees to discuss, share, and learn about mental health problems.
The event began with a brief introduction by the Mind Matters Too! organisers, immediately followed by the main discussion. Attendees received the opportunity to share their own experiences and ask questions about mental health and the manner by which social relationships helped or harmed the issues they faced.
The discussion was concluded at 7:30 p.m. and followed by a Mindfulness Meditation exercise. Mindfulness is an activity believed to promote well-being that involves bringing attention to problems, experiences, emotions, and thoughts occurring in the meditators mind both internally and externally. The exercise lasted for around ten minutes. The night’s events then came to a close.
Ignite had the chance to speak with organisers Arjun Selvan and Sara Fatini Abdul Naser, as well as Fitness Club president Victoria Cheng. Arjun, who first approached the others about organising the event, says that he was inspired to hold a mental health awareness program after going through his own hard times over the summer break and realising that many people are going through similar problems but often refrained from talking about them.
When asked about the challenges faced in bringing Mind Matters Too! to fruition, the organisers said that the whole planning process, which is an ongoing effort, has been particularly tedious. Organisers have to choose topics that are general enough to be relatable to their demographic, which consists of people both with and without experiences of mental illness.
“Sharing, connecting, mindfulness, and meditation are very universal,” Victoria stated, explaining why catering to varying demographics would not be too much of a problem. She hopes that through this event, attendees will learn to “treat mental health as seriously as physical health.”
The long-term hurdle would be for everyone to realise that fitness is not just a physical thing; it’s very much mental and spiritual.
Arjun believes that the event will help people to construct themselves fundamentally based on all aspects – physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. “It’s alherel about creating a better tomorrow, or just creating the best next moment.”
Sara is happy to see new faces every weekly session, and thinks that people should educate themselves as there will be a period of time in everyone’s life where they will face mental health problems.
Interested to attend? The Mind Matters sessions commence at 6:30 p.m. every Thursday. The session coming up on the 17th of March is entitled “Dealing with Depression” and will be a workshop conducted by Dr. Hazel Melanie Ramos. Keep your eyes peeled for an e-mail regarding the event’s location!
Like the event and want to see more similar events happening in the future? The current six-week Mind Matters Too! itinerary is merely a pilot run, and with enough positive feedback, the organisers hope to make the event bigger and better in the next academic year by bringing in experts from on and off campus, bringing more research papers in for discussion, and bringing more ambitious ideas to life. If you have attended a session, you can provide feedback for the event here.
By Eunice Quah