On 17th June 2023, an impactful health promotion event, “Aspirasi Sihat,” took place at Pangsapuri Putra Ria. With a specific focus on adolescent mental health, this event aimed to increase mental health literacy among adolescents living in PPR (People’s Housing Project). The event spanned from 8 am to 3 pm, providing a comprehensive platform for education, screening, and awareness-raising on mental health and other significant public health issues.
This impactful event was primarily planned and executed by the Master of Public Health Students as part of their practical assessment for the Health Promotion module MQB7025, under the guidance of Associate Professor Dr Nik Daliana Nik Farid and Dr Nur Afiqah Mohd Salleh from the Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Universiti Malaya. This event was done in collaboration with the Department of Public Health, Universiti Malaya Medical Centre (UMMC), community leaders, and various Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs) namely: Insaf Murni, Wellesta Truelife, The Lost Food Project, Abbott laboratories, KafeTeen, NCSM, REBUNG, and WAO.
The primary objective of the event was to raise mental health literacy among adolescents residing in PPR. Additionally, the program aimed to screen for mental health illnesses, cancer, and other non-communicable diseases while raising awareness in the community about these crucial public health concerns. Alarming statistics reveal that over 400,000 children in Malaysia struggle with mental health problems, with a considerable number of adolescents residing in PPR experiencing symptoms of depression and anxiety. Addressing these issues is vital, considering that adolescents in this demographic accounted for a significant portion of reported suicide cases.
The event took place at Pangsapuri Putra Ria, providing a convenient and accessible location for the residents of the apartment complex. The venue offered a suitable environment for hosting the event, allowing participants to engage in various activities and workshops throughout the day. Approximately 230 residents of Putra Ria Apartment, primarily belonging to the B40 income group, actively participated in the event. The age range of the attendees spanned from 3 years old to 73 years old, representing a diverse cross-section of the community.
The event comprised four main themes: Nutrition, Adolescent Mental Health, Non-communicable Diseases, and Domestic Violence against Women. A total of 20 booths were set up to provide engaging activities and workshops related to these themes. Participants had the opportunity to undergo BMI and nutritional assessments for children, participate in a treasure hunt featuring educational stations on mental health and smoking, avail medical screenings and consultations, receive cancer education, and access information regarding domestic violence.
Two groups of MBBS students from the Faculty of Medicine, who are currently in their Community Medicine Posting also played a crucial role in the event. Group 2A provided personalized health education on illicit drug use to the community, specifically targeting adolescents and parents, aiming to increase awareness about this pressing issue. The community members had expressed concerns about drug use among teenagers, making it an essential topic to address. Additionally, Group 1A supported the event by assisting in health screenings for the public. Alongside conducting screenings, they also educated participants about non-communicable diseases, empowering them with the knowledge to make informed decisions about their health.
The event was honoured by the presence of special guests and dignitaries. Abdul Haniff Sulaiman, Treasurer of Putra Ria Residents’ Committee, delivered a speech, followed by a speech from Professor Dr Victor Hoe Chee Wai Abdullah, Head Department of Social & Preventive Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Universiti Malaya. Subsequently, the officiating speech was given by Associate Professor Dr Mas Ayu Binti Said, Head of the Public Health Department, UMMC.
The event featured notable speakers and experts who shared their insights and expertise. Madam Kartini binti Ariffin, the former programme host of the 3R TV3 Show, delivered a talk titled “Defying the Odds: A Survivor’s Tale of Early Diagnosis and Triumph,” providing firsthand experience and knowledge about cancer. Madam Isma binti Hussein from the Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO) spoke on domestic violence and the available resources for seeking help. “Aspirasi Jom Sihat” successfully brought together the community of Pangsapuri Putra Ria in an endeavour to promote health and wellness, with a specific focus on adolescent mental health.
Through educational activities, workshops, and engaging presentations, participants gained valuable knowledge, underwent screenings, and were empowered to address mental health issues. The event served as a catalyst for change and a stepping stone towards a healthier and more informed community.
This report was prepared by Dr Sumitra Ropini a/p Karuthan, Medical Officer from the Department of Public Health, Universiti Malaya Medical Centre (UMMC).