Archive for the ‘Stress Management.’ Category

Mental health centres needed

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013

KUALA LUMPUR: The country needs more community mental health care centres and trained therapists in schools and institutions of higher learning to help students and young adults menage stress.

National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (Niosh) president Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye said the increase in stress levels in schools, higher learning institutions, colleges and at workplaces is a major factor in the rise in mental disorder cases.

“School children have been detected to have severe symptoms of stress, anxiety or depression. These children should be given appropriate intervention in the form of counseling and mental health coping skills.

Teachers, students face stress

Friday, September 6th, 2013

TIME BOMBS: Keep your eyes open for the mentally sick in our midst.

A NEW test will be introduced for applicants to teachers’ training colleges, the Education Ministry announced on Monday.

The assessment will gauge whether they have the mental resilience to be teachers in today’s fast-paced, everything-now world.

Will they continue to have both oars in the water when under extreme pressure and emotional distress?

Students these days are, after all, capable of driving anyone, even the most serene embodiments of control, over the edge.

Being ignored and heckled, or worse, attacked, assaulted and having your car set on fire do that to people.

Educators have spoken of fellow teachers who clamber over the school fence to get into school and talk to themselves. One carried a basket to school every day and filled it up with stray kittens found along the way.

But it’s not just teachers that ought to be assessed. Students should be, too.

Last Saturday, a Form Five student hanged himself with his school tie at his home in Kampar.

Several days earlier, a student, believed to be suffering from stress after having to re-sit six exam papers, fell to her death from the 10th floor of a flat in Tanjung Bungah in Penang.

There have been many other suicides and suicide attempts involving students over the years.

by Chok Suat Ling

A game to help kids with anger problems

Tuesday, August 13th, 2013

IN an age where many are hooked on computer games, Singapore’s Institute of Mental Health (IMH) is experimenting with using the medium to reach out to children with anger problems.

It hopes that primary school children can learn to control their anger and impulses after playing Regna Tales, a role-playing computer game that it launched recently.

Dr Daniel Fung, chairman of the IMH medical board, said, “Anger is the most common negative emotion that children experience. It is found in all sorts of conditions from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) to depression and when it gets really bad, it results in violence.”

He hopes to reach out to large groups of children through the game, to give them some help in dealing with their emotions. It is hoped that this would reduce the number of children who need psychiatric help.

The IMH’s Child Guidance Clinic, for patients between six and 19, has been seeing between 2,500 and 3,000 new patients a year, in the last five years.

The most common conditions are ADHD, stress-related problems and autism spectrum disorders.

The IMH worked with game developer IP Spaces to come up with it, at a cost of about S$220,000 (RM560,489).

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More urban folk expressing suicidal thoughts

Tuesday, August 13th, 2013

PETALING JAYA: The number of people in Klang Valley expressing suicidal thoughts to Befrienders Kuala Lumpur last year is almost double that of 2008.

In 2008, 1,393 persons expressed that they had suicidal feelings, but the number shot up to 2,668 last year, said Befrienders KL chairman L. Mary Raj.

Relationship issues topped the list of problems expressed, followed by psychiatric and financial problems, she said, adding that most callers who said they had suicidal thoughts were below 30, followed closely by those in the 31 to 50 year age group.

When it comes to race, the Chinese led the pack, making up 60% of callers, followed by Indians and Malays.

Mary said the reason more people were having suicidal thoughts could be due to an increasing number of people living under stressful conditions, as well as greater media publi­city on suicide cases.

Other than phone calls, such expressions were also made through e-mail and face-to-face meetings.

“It is good that they express suicidal feelings because it lowers their risk of committing suicide at the moment they are contemplating it,” Mary said.

According to the National Suicide Registry, 117 suicide cases were recorded in 2007, while 425 cases were seen in 2010. Indians recorded the highest suicide rate at 3.67 for every 100,000 Indians, followed by the Chinese at 2.44 per 100,000.


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Too blessed to be stressed

Sunday, May 26th, 2013

Sometimes, spending quiet moments alone in the garden can offer lessons that remind us to put things in perspective.

WE all go through moments when everything is totally meaningless. There are days when nothing seems to go right, and we are overwhelmed by circumstances that we cannot control.

On Friday morning, I woke up early, put the laundry to wash, and prepared my regular breakfast of two half-boiled eggs. I made myself a cup of coffee and remembered that the coffee had been sent to me specially by a friend in Kuantan.

She is a cancer survivor and the road for her is not easy. She has to travel by bus once every few weeks to continue her treatment in another state but she never complains. She shares about how she takes morning walks on the beach front and the amazing views of sunrise bring her much cheer.

I took my cup of coffee and sat on the swing in the garden. This swing was given to us by my brother-in-law years ago when he moved house. It has wonderful memories because I courted my wife on this swing when she stayed with her brother in Petaling Jaya.

As I surveyed the patch of green, with a few pots of plants that have been part of the scenery for many years, I recall how my mother, even in her 80s, would potter about to keep the garden neat and tidy.

I have seen gardens that are “picture-perfect” but the owners are often too busy to appreciate them.

In one of the cracks on the concrete wall, a small plant with one flower in full bloom reminds me that even in the toughest of situations, it is possible to be a beacon of hope.

The sun was slowly rising. It had rained earlier and the air was fresh. The dark clouds were shifting away, and I was treated to a kaleidoscope of colour in the morning sky. As I have written before, the most brilliant sunrises and sunsets are not only those by the beach or in the hills.

They are often in our own backyard, if we wake up early enough, and are able to look beyond the trials of life, and lift up our eyes. Many years back, a friend sent me a card that said, “If the outlook is grim, try looking up.”

by Soo Ewe  Jin.

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Slow down, relax, breathe deeply

Saturday, March 16th, 2013

Managing stress is easier said than done, but in the fast – paced life we live, it is important to master this skill, writes Meera Murugesan.

MANAGE stress and you’ll be healthier and happier. Haven’t we heard this once too often? And isn’t it easier said than done given the “pressure cooker” lives we lead today?

Demanding bosses, back-stabbing co-workers, problematic children and unruly neighbours — the list of “stress triggers” is endless in today’s urban environment. But can we still find ways to manage stress and achieve balance in our lives in the midst of all this chaos?

Humans are social creatures. We thrive in our inter-personal relationships, whether at home or at work but these same relationships can either be a source of support or stress, says Dr Daniel Zainal Abdul Rahman, consultant psychiatrist at Pantai Hospital Kuala Lumpur.

Managing stress he explains, doesn’t mean eliminating it from our lives because that would be impossible. Furthermore, we need stress to some extent because it motivates us to perform. But, if we are in perpetual stress mode 24 hours a day we are heading for danger.


Dr Daniel says everyone is “running on fifth gear” these days, so the body’s stress response, which is actually intended to help us face an external threat to our safety or survival, is being constantly triggered.

The heart beats fast, breathing becomes shallow and rapid, blood pressure, pulse rate and sugar levels rise. Adrenalin floods the body and muscles tighten. All these come into place to help us either fight or run away in the face of danger and these stress parameters go back to normal once the threat is over. However, in today’s environment, this stress response is being triggered all the time, even over small things and the end result is damage to the body and mind.

“It’s like starting a car, and keeping the left foot flooring the brake and the right foot flooring the gas. What do you think happens to the engine? How long can it last? It will break down,” he says.

Parents, friends cause of stress

Monday, October 8th, 2012

KUALA LUMPUR: Young Malaysians, especially students experience stress because of pressure from parents and peers.

National Population and Family Development Board chairman Tan Sri Datuk Napsiah Omar said children were pressured to score in examinations and almost had no time for leisure activities to help them unwind.

“It (stress) is mainly caused by competition among students striving to be the best,” she told the New Straits Times yesterday.

She pointed out the need for an understanding in children’s development to balance study and entertainment.

“Education is important, but this does not mean parents should risk their children’s mental health.”

Befrienders Kuala Lumpur executive director Vincent Pun said they received 21,600 calls and emails from young callers for help over relationship break-ups, interpersonal conflicts in school and at home, insecurity and family problems last year.

“Parents must play their part. When problems are identified, a family should start working on ways to solve them instead of avoiding them.

“If the problems are not resolved, they could lead to youths committing suicide.”

A report by the National Suicide Registry Malaysia estimated that between January and August 2010, 425 people committed suicide, averaging 60 cases per month.

National Parent-Teacher Association president Prof Datuk Dr Mohamad Ali Hassan said parents should be more aware of their children’s emotional status and added that the education system should be less taxing.

“Parents should spend more time with children instead of leaving them to struggle on their own as it may lead to suicide.

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Stress Management – Start Here!

Saturday, January 28th, 2012

Take action quickly when “cracks” start to appear.

© iStockphoto/kulicki

A lot of research has been conducted into stress over the last hundred years. Some of the theories behind it are now settled and accepted; others are still being researched and debated. During this time, there seems to have been something approaching open warfare between competing theories and definitions: Views have been passionately held and aggressively defended.

What complicates this is that intuitively we all feel that we know what stress is, as it is something we have all experienced. A definition should therefore be obvious… except that it is not.


Hans Selye was one of the founding fathers of stress research. His view in 1956 was that “stress is not necessarily something bad – it all depends on how you take it. The stress of exhilarating, creative successful work is beneficial, while that of failure, humiliation or infection is detrimental.” Selye believed that the biochemical effects of stress would be experienced irrespective of whether the situation was positive or negative.

Since then, a great deal of further research has been conducted, and ideas have moved on. Stress is now viewed as a “bad thing”, with a range of harmful biochemical and long-term effects. These effects have rarely been observed in positive situations.

The most commonly accepted definition of stress (mainly attributed to Richard S Lazarus) is that stress is a condition or feeling experienced when a person perceives that “demands exceed the personal and social resources the individual is able to mobilize.” In short, it’s what we feel when we think we’ve lost control of events.

This is the main definition used by this section of Mind Tools, although we also recognize that there is an intertwined instinctive stress response to unexpected events. The stress response inside us is therefore part instinct and part to do with the way we think.

Fight – or – Flight:

Some of the early research on stress (conducted by Walter Cannon in 1932) established the existence of the well-known “fight-or-flight” response. His work showed that when an organism experiences a shock orperceives a threat, it quickly releases hormones that help it to survive.

In humans, as in other animals, these hormones help us to run faster and fight harder. They increase heart rate and blood pressure, delivering more oxygen and blood sugar to power important muscles. They increase sweating in an effort to cool these muscles, and help them stay efficient. They divert blood away from the skin to the core of our bodies, reducing blood loss if we are damaged. As well as this, these hormones focus our attention on the threat, to the exclusion of everything else. All of this significantly improves our ability to survive life-threatening events.

Not only life-threatening events trigger this reaction: We experience it almost any time we come across something unexpected or something that frustrates our goals. When the threat is small, our response is small and we often do not notice it among the many other distractions of a stressful situation.

Unfortunately, this mobilization of the body for survival also has negative consequences. In this state, we are excitable, anxious, jumpy and irritable. This actually reduces our ability to work effectively with other people. With trembling and a pounding heart, we can find it difficult to execute precise, controlled skills. The intensity of our focus on survival interferes with our ability to make fine judgments by drawing information from many sources. We find ourselves more accident-prone and less able to make good decisions.

There are very few situations in modern working life where this response is useful. Most situations benefit from a calm, rational, controlled and socially sensitive approach.

In the short term, we need to keep this fight-or-flight response under control to be effective in our jobs. In the long term we need to keep it under control to avoid problems of poor health and burnout.

Introducing Stress Management:

There are very many proven skills that we can use to manage stress. These help us to remain calm and effective in high pressure situations, and help us avoid the problems of long term stress. In the rest of this section of Mind Tools, we look at some important techniques in each of these three groups.

This is a much-abridged excerpt from the ‘Understanding Stress and Stress Management’ module of the Mind Tools Stress Management Masterclass. As well as covering this material in more detail, it also discusses:

  • Long-term stress: The General Adaptation Syndrome and Burnout.
  • The Integrated Stress Response.
  • Stress and Health.
  • Stress and its Affect on the Way We Think.
  • Pressure & Performance: Flow and the ‘Inverted-U’.

These sections give you a deeper understanding of stress, helping you to develop your own stress management strategies for handling unique circumstances. Click here to find out more about the Stress Management Masterclass.

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Penampang school selected for pilot mental health project

Saturday, August 6th, 2011

PENAMPANG: SMK St Michael here is one of six schools in the country selected for a pilot project on the mental health of students, a member of the Mental Health Promotion Advisory Council of the Health Ministry, Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye, said.

The project, which was implemented in March this year, is expected to be completed by September and the findings would be handed over to the Education Minister for further action, Lee said.

Speaking to reporters after a briefing on the project named “Program Minda Sihat Menangani Stress” (Healthy Mind Program), at SMK St Michael here yesterday, Lee said it was conducted to determine the state of mental health of secondary school students by conducting mental health screening on symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression.

“This was a good initiative by the Ministry of Health as a lot of mental health problems may pass unnoticed in schools. Secondary students who are detected to have severe symptoms of stress, anxiety or depression will be given appropriate interventions which include counseling and mental health coping skills,” he said.

According to Lee, the findings should enable the government to gauge the actual state of mental health among students and decide on the best course of action to address mental health issues in schools.

Among the mental health activities that can be implemented in schools include promoting mental health literacy in the school community through talks, exhibitions and quizzes that can be held as extra-curricular activities involving Parent-Teacher Association (PTAs) and school clubs.

“The issue of mental health among students must be addressed with a sense of urgency. If they do not get our help, our nation is going to be burdened with a generation suffering from serious mental health problems in an ever-increasing competitive global environment.

by Nancy Lai.

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Causes of Stress in Teenagers

Tuesday, July 5th, 2011

A world fueled with cut throat competition has its own set of problems. The demands of surviving in today’s world have undergone a huge change as compared to a decade ago. Whether it is getting good grades or excelling at sports, the competition has only become fierce. In such conditions, stress is an obvious side effect. Sometimes, stress helps you stay motivated and keeps you driven towards achieving your goals. However, if the stress gets too much to handle, it can lead to dire consequences with very serious repercussions. Many teenagers are victims of such kind of stress. To deal with it, it is important to understand causes of stress in teenagers. If the signs and symptoms of teenage stress go unrecognized for a long time, it can make your child emotionally imbalanced and stymied.

Common Causes of Stress in Teenagers

Change of School
Children have to move places, as parents change their jobs or if the family decides to move to a different place. This means, your child has to change schools, find new friends, adapt to the new social circle and fit into new groups. This change may seem justified to you, helping you in adapting to it faster and better. However, children often find it difficult to adapt to such changes, which can be a serious cause of stress in your teenager’s life. Moreover, as teenage brings with it a rebellious streak in children, it makes finding new friends and getting along with new social circles, a little complex than what is anticipated. As they fail to grasp the idea of changing schools, they get lonely, which worsens the problem.

Bullying at School
Bullying is an age old problem in school. There is always one person who would walk the extra mile to satisfy his selfish interests. To get what he wants, he may get into physical fights and verbal abuse. Getting bullied can make your child feel trapped and cornered. This can further affect your child’s social interactions and self confidence. Bunking school, staying at home and being scared all the time, are some of the signs of stress related to bullying at school.

Academic Difficulties
Academic difficulties, such as inability to understand a certain subject is one of the common causes of stress in teenagers. Not every child has an aptitude to understand every subject. Some kids need extra help besides school work, to grasp a few concepts. Poor academic performance is often laughed at and is looked down upon, by both teachers and peers. In such cases, it can make your child feel isolated, neglected and hurt. All of this, put together, can add to stress, which many a times worsens grades and aggravates the issues.

Relationship Issues
Relationship issues at home, such as divorce of parents, their separation or death of a family member can be one of the biggest causes of mounting stress in your child’s life. Teenage is the time when children explore acts of lying, covering up and other things which were termed as out of bounds so far. Such experiments are likely to get them caught up in fights with peers, leading to estranged relationships with them. As their closest friends and families break away, a teenager experiences emotions, which remained hidden until now. Such kind of emotional upheaval leads to unnecessary stress in your teenager’s life.

Extra Curricular Activities
Extra curricular activities such as playing a sport, refining some art forms or attending classes can weigh heavily on your child’s mind. Juggling between school and extra curricular activities does seem like a burden when you have to excel at both. When the pressures from both the ends gets unmanageable, teenagers tend to get overwhelmed and frazzled. Fatigue sets in, leading to stress related issues such as lack of concentration in school.

Great Expectations
Fulfilling expectations of parents, school teachers and peers can cause chronic stress. It is unfair to expect your child to excel at everything he does. Such great expectations is the main reason why children tend to reel in self-doubt and peer pressure. The constant demands from parents and micro monitoring of every activity, to ensure your child becomes the best at everything, can make your child emotionally and physically exhausted by the end of it.

by Mukta Gaikwad.

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