19 October 2015

Getting mental at Sunway University

Sunway University and Sunway Education Group’s Student Services Department in collaboration with Sunway Medical Centre recently organised conference on mental health, themed “Getting Mental: Wellbeing Beyond Self”.

Dr Elizabeth Lee, Senior Executive Director, Sunway University and Sunway Education Group presenting a token of appreciation to Tan Sri Datuk Seri Lee Lam Thye, Trustee of the Jeffrey Cheah Foundation for his opening address

Following a warm welcome by Dr Elizabeth Lee, Senior Executive Director of Sunway University and Sunway Education Group, the conference was kicked off with an opening address by Tan Sri Datuk Seri Lee Lam Thye, Trustee of the Jeffrey Cheah Foundation. Tan Sri Lee emphasised the importance of engaging the community and the government for a collective effort of promoting good mental health. He applauded the organisers of the conference as he firmly believed that conferences like this are essential platforms in creating awareness of mental wellbeing and destimatising mental health suferers.

Dr Phang Cheng Kar from Sunway Medical Centre amused the audience with an enlightening keynote address

The humourous Dr Phang Cheng Kar, Consultant Psychiatrist at Sunway Medical Centre created much laughter at the conference with his interesting and enjoyable keynote address. “Health is a complete state of physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity and mental health is the ability to think, feel, and act in positive, healthy and happy ways,” explained Dr Phang as mental health is still widely associated with negative words such as ‘psycho’, ‘mad’ and ‘crazy’. Mental health also refers to one’s happiness.

Dr Anasuya Jegathesan spoke about “The Superglue of Existence: Spirituality”

Dr Phang, who preferred to be called as the mental health consultant rather than psychiatrist, shared his family history of mental disorder. His mother suffers from generalised anxiety disorder, his uncle has severe depression, his aunt has obsessive compulsive disorder and his grandmother is diagonosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

Counselling sessions going on concurrently with the conference

That however did not stop Dr Phang from staying positive. “50 percent of our mental health is determined genetically and biologically which we can’t control. 10 percent of it is determined by the environment such as natural disasters. But we have 40 percent of control on our mental health which we should focus on. That being said, we should learn to recondition the way we think as our mental health states affect people around us,” said Dr Phang, adding that any of us may not be fully responsible for tragedies such as suicides, but we are response-able for effective prevention.

Dr Hariyati Abd Majid’s workshop was about “Psychological First Aid”

Other speakers at the conference included Dr Karen Morgan, Valerie Jaques, Associate Professor Dr Alvin Ng Lai Oon, Rebecca Wong, Dr Sharuna Verghis, Dr Anasuya Jegathesan, Dr Hariyati Abd Majid, Low Mi Yen and Dr Yeo Pei Li. They covered a wide range of topics on mental health such as social awareness, being mindful of the present, empowerment, suicide prevention and many more.

Joey Tan Heng Xuan from second year BSc (Hons) Psychology was the emcee of the conference. “We are here to create the awareness about mental health. Being mentally ill is nothing wrong,” quipped Joey with great passion in psychology. In addition to better understanding on mental health, one of the biggest take-away from the conference was being motivated to be positive, where all participants and contributors left the conference in good spirits.

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