The Voices Festival - Debunking Stigmas on Mental Health

Mental Health has been a hot topic in Malaysia for the past few years, with an increase in cases of suicide, cyberbullying and depression especially amongst young adults. But how much do we really know about mental health and the issues surrounding it?

the voices festival - debunking stigmas on mental health Photo: Oasis Malaysia

The Voices Festival with the theme – “Redefining and destigmatising mental health through empathy, knowledge and tools”, took place on the 16th of November at Exchange Hall, Kuala Lumpur. Organised by Oasis Malaysia, the event was aimed at breaking the stigma and raising awareness on mental health issues, following the alarming rise of reported and non-reported suicide cases in Malaysia.

“We hear news of children from as young as 10 years old, calling Befrienders for suicidal thoughts and a teenager in May 2019 lost her life when her ‘friends’ voted for her to commit suicide on Instagram. Despite all these, it is unfortunate that mental health remains a stigma, we as Malaysians recognise the severity of this issue yet not everyone speaks about it.” said Oasis Malaysia director, Kristy Yong.

the voices festival - debunking stigmas on mental health Photo: Oasis Malaysia

The event was graced by Primary Industries Minister and MP of Seputeh, YB Teresa Kok and our favourite comedian Harith Iskander and had a line-up of many fun activities.

The main attraction of the festival had to be the Schizophrenic Patient Simulation Experience, a first in Kuala Lumpur. The simulation mobilised the senses of participants to feel and experience what a schizophrenic patient goes through so people can relate and empathise with people who are suffering from it.

the voices festival - debunking stigmas on mental health Photo: Oasis Malaysia

Other activities also included a Suicide Prevention Workshop aimed at teaching attendees how to identify and help someone who is contemplating suicide along with other psychological and mindfulness games, sand tray therapy, expressive art and protective cards, workout sessions and health and lifestyle booths.

With this effort, we hope more people are made aware of what mental health is all about and actively contribute to breaking the stigma surrounding mental health issues.

By: Siti Farhana Sheikh Yahya