COMSATS Secretariat and COMSATS University Islamabad join hands to observe World Mental Health Day with workshop on “Engaging University Faculty for Mental Health Wellbeing of Youth” 

Islamabad, October 16, 2021 (PPI-OT):To highlight the significance of mental health in youth and to observe this year’s World Mental Health Day, the Commission of Science and technology for Sustainable Development in the South (COMSATS) and its Centre of Excellence, COMSATS University Islamabad (CUI) jointly organized a Workshop on “Engaging University Faculty for Mental Health Wellbeing of Youth” on 14th October 2021 at COMSATS University Islamabad (CUI).

On behalf of the two organizations, COMSATS Telehealth Desk and Psychology and Health Informatics Department (CUI’s) organized the hybrid workshop with eminent speakers from National Defense University, National University of Science and Technology (NUST) and UN.

Dr. Azeema Fareed, Pr. Medical Officer and pioneer of COMSATS Telehealth Project, opened the event with an introduction and significance of mental health and its awareness along with the expected outcomes of workshop. Dr. Fareed also highlighted the need of such events and underlined the COMSATS endeavors and contribution in achievement of 17 sustainable development goals.

In his welcome address, Registrar CUI, Dr. Sajjad A. Madani, highlighted a number of challenges for youth, arising from the information age. He especially mentioned the mental wellbeing challenges transpiring from the use of social media that have deep social and psychological impact. He hoped that the current event will help in identification and tackling of the relevant challenges.

The technical session was initiated by Dr. Aisha Kashif by familiarizing the audience with term “mental health” and briefly sharing factors affecting peace of human mind. She notified the participants with the dark picture of mental health, which explained myths and stigmas associated with mentally sick person and mental health.

She added that there is constant bombardment of stress in daily life; however, the handling ability of every individual is different from one another. Talking particularly about university students, she added that the university culture is more diverse then school and colleges, as students are settling in totally new environment along with the hormonal changes that pose a big challenge for newly enrolled university students.

She indicated that mental health is not a single phased or constant state of mind but it is actually the ability to deal with day to day mental and emotional challenges, in best possible way destroying negative energies and thoughts to keep mind healthy. Dr. Noreen Akhter, Deputy Director Sr. Psychologist NUST, touched specifically the warning signs and identification of risk cases.

Dr. Akhtar apprised the participants that stigmas related to mental illness increase the problem which may trigger the self-harming behavior and suicidal thoughts in patients and strongly condemned the particular judgmental behavior towards these patients. Moreover, she notified that our young generation has very poor connection with their parents and teachers which ultimately results in issues effecting their personalities and mental peace.

The social media and digital gadgets are becoming organs of our youth. Their more and unhealthy usage is pushing them towards stress, anxiety and drug addiction too. So it is the responsibility of parents to connect with children and teachers have to pay their due role by bonding with them to save our young generation.

Dr. Saima Kalsoom, Psychologist NDU, Islamabad, was the last speaker who highlight teacher’s role in building students mental health and peace. She initiated with the emphasis on teachers psycho-education that is very crucial and neglected.

Dr. Kalsoom urged that university policy makers should reconsider the working hours and working environment of faculty so that they can be peaceful enough to manage their relationship with young minds. She concluded the technical session by advising participants to relax themselves via mediation, yoga, or in any other way and encouraged them to make good bonding with their students.

In Q and A session, questions regarding parent’s education, consequences of social media, and awareness session on sexual harassment were raised. Addressing these issues, guest speakers added that, lacking of parent-child bond and awareness regarding child mental issues is the root cause of mental illness in young generation.

Unfortunately, people are not ready to listen to sensitive and significant issues like sexual harassment despite suffering them. Moreover, the social media and digital gadgets cannot be thrown away from our lives. Since, we have to learn its moderate and effective usage.

Federal Secretary to Ministry of Science and Technology Executive Director COMSATS, Dr. Akhtar Nazir, who is also the incumbent Executive Director COMSATS, lauded this initiative by COMSATS Secretariat Telehealth Desk and COMSATS University. In the light of key global stats on mental health in youth that he found alarming, Dr. Nazir considered it important to give this field of medical science due importance for ensuring healthier societies.

He further emphasized the need for keeping debates open on this and other health issues through awareness events, which he deemed an important step forward for relevant remedial measures at societal and national levels. Moreover, he also shared his personal experiences and practices with participants to reduce stress and improve mental health.

Delivering his vote of thanks at the closing ceremony, Prof. Dr. Tabassum Afzal, Rector COMSATS University Islamabad (CUI), considered the subject very timely owing to increased stress and other mental health related issues since the advent of COVID-19.

Considering cultural and societal norms an important factor in dealing with mental illnesses, Prof. Afzal cited examples of stress management from the Islamic history and urged the faculty to take initiatives for the wellbeing of youth’s mental health. He also acknowledged the long-standing COMSATS – CUI relationship and extended gratitude to organizers, participants, and other distinguished guests.

The event concluded with certificate awarding ceremony. Rector CUI. Dr. Afzal also presented shield to honorable Executive Director COMSATS for gracing workshop by his worthy presence as chief guest.

Workshop was attended by 30 faculty members of CUI. Besides raising awareness, the subject event also had the backdrop of helping to achieve Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) – 03 and 04 regarding quality education through healthy minds and bodies.

For more information, contact:
Commission on Science and Technology for Sustainable Development in the South
Shahrah-e-Jamhuriat, G-5/2, Islamabad, Pakistan
Tel: +92-51-9204900, +92-51-9214515-7
Fax: +92-51-9216539

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