Last year, Meng Zhen reached out to Hope for the Day to arrange a visit to Sip of Hope Cafe. A willingness to travel thousands of miles illustrates his commitment to innovative and practical learning opportunities for students in his Psychology classes. When planning my Hope Travels journey, in an effort tp support his desire for connectedness, a stop in Malaysia to partner with Meng’s community was a definite plan.
During online collaboration, we determined that university students can often be steeped in theoretics over practical knowledge. His college students, as most across the globe, feel that they spend hours studying knowledge that can be quickly accessible with a Google search, while never addressing the big questions that linger in their minds about future careers.
We wanted to inspire students to recognize that their knowledge, passion, and power didn’t require a diploma to start making a difference. As proactive mental health advocates, they had to power to strike up conversations, plan projects to connect communities, and generally make an effort to share kindness and hope with others.
Our first presentation was hosted by Sunway University. Sunway is an internationally renowned academic environment determined to use the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to inspire generations of globally-oriented citizens.
With oversight of energetic members of the Sunway Psychology Club, we hosted a two hour workshop centered on “Sharing Proactive Mental Health in Your Community and On the Road.”
Some topics discussed including the importance of raising visibility about mental health while minimizing the stigma associated with seeking help. As I have discovered, there are many different cultural factors throughout the world that make conversations about mental health challenging – and often off limits.
Not only was I able to share some of my favorite Hope Travels stories and introduce partners from around the world, but I benefited from the time spent with this dedicated core of passionate students leading a generation of change agents. From our short time together, it was clear they have the courage to stand up and create positive change.
Approximately 80 students took time from their busy schedules to attend the event. The depth of their questions, and desire to talk after the session show the need for proactive prevention. Suffering in silence is common and while there is no magic wand for mental health care, people often say they just want someone willing to listen.
The students at Sunway University want action – and have a desire to be part of positive societal change. Their investment in personal care and well-being of others will clearly produce strong results.