NEC x NBIOS : Mental Health Seminar!
On the recent 6th of March, NUST Environment Club in collaboration with NUST BioReach Society organized an ambitious ‘Mental Health Seminar’ sponsored by Consuldents and Fulbright and was held at RIMMs Seminar Hall. It was done realizing the imminent need of creating mental health awareness, particularly amongst the young student demographic, since the occurrence of tragic events among our youth arising from states of poor mental health are becoming more and more common. Keeping in mind how talking openly and honestly about one’s mental health is still considered as a social taboo, it makes it incredibly intimidating for people to seek out help or support since they fear social perceptions and prejudices. Therefore, by arranging this ‘Mental Health Seminar’, the two student clubs attempted to take a commendable step towards providing a unique platform for participants and panel alike, to openly and constructively express their opinions and expertise.
The invited panel for the event was incredibly diverse and this helped to integrate a great variety of personal and professional views on the seminar’s theme. The speakers included Dr. Uzma Masroor, the Head of Department of Professional Psychology at Bahria University, Dr Salma Siddiqui, the Head of department of Behavioral sciences in School of Social and Humanitarian Sciences at H12 NUST and Ms. Viqar Habib Bokhari, the Senior Mistress of Beaconhouse A levels Margalla Campus. Additionally, two NUST students were also part of the panel, one being Jaffar Abbas, also a representative for ‘Consuldents’ firm and the other a surprise speaker for the event, Muhammad Ans Butt, who has bravely battled against the sufferings of clinical depression and mental health issues for a prolonged period of time. Hence, the panel was a perfect blend of professional insights and brave personal experiences in dealing with mental health.
The event began with the talk of Dr. Uzma, who spoke about the psychology of mental health. She focused on the idea of how by revolving the mind around negative thoughts, one could severely deteriorate his personal mental health, and that in order to break this cycle, one should highlight the brighter side of every event that happens to him. Thus, her main takeaway was that in order to look at the brighter side of life, one must change his perceptions first to consciously make an effort of finding optimism even in the depth of crisis.
After this, Dr. Salma Siddiqui informed the audience about some common psychological behaviors that are linked with poor mental health and how bad habits can lead to pessimistic mindsets and can even cause depression. She also addressed the critical issue of bullying; making a mention of a survey done amongst secondary school students, which concluded that about 6% of all students were engaged in acts of self-harm, and these students were mostly kids around the age of 13. Her session was very insightful, and offered valuable real life lessons for the audience to remember.
Following Dr. Salma’s talk, the audience was addressed by Ms. Viqar Habib. She eagerly narrated her story of being someone who in spite of little professional background in psychology, channeled her networking and communication skills instead, so that she could offer help and assistance to people with poor mental health in her circle of influence. She mentioned her experience in dealing with struggles of her students, and she said, “Mental Health should never be compromised for the sake of incredibly high and often at times unrealistic goals for studies and grades.” She shared some very heartfelt stories about many of her students who came to her telling how they are going through depression, and the ways in which she helped them. She emphasized on the need of good listening and confidentiality. Her experiences were eye-opening and carried hope and optimism.
Muhammad Ans butt, a sophomore from IESE talked about his painful experience of suffering from feelings of despair and social rejection when he battled mental disorders of depression and anxiety. He talked about how he made the brave journey towards achieving self-healing and a mental health recovery. He discussed the attitudes he observed from the society on the different aspects of the environment and how it could lead to isolation, heartbreak and ego within the mind of the victim. His talk inspired people to not only over come their own personal barriers, but to also help others in achieving the same too.
As the event steered towards its conclusion, Jaffar Abbas, a representative of Consuldents, cheerfully engaged with the audience and shared with them his opinions about tackling sadness. He focused on the importance of being productive, keeping yourself busy and keeping the company of good friends.
At the end, audience was allowed to express themselves, and ask questions from the panelists in a Q&A session. The interaction of audience with the panelists was a beautiful sight to witness as they asked honest and significant questions, that all of us could relate to in mental health difficulties that we go through. These included, “ “How do we help a friend who is going through depression but does not change his behavior?”, “What is the difference between sadness and depression, and how do we deal with them differently ?”, “How important is expression of internal thought in dealing with depression?” Panelists effectively responded to all the queries. There were still more questions to be asked when the given time was over as people were very eager about the topic.
Concluding the event, all the speakers were awarded shields and the event came to its conclusion. To say that the event was successful in bridging people together to talk constructively on a very critical topic would indeed be no less than the truth. In fact, the event only portrayed the positive change in social perceptions towards a more tolerant and exclusive social structure that would offer help to all those who had till now silently suffered.