Caring for Mental Health

Staying healthy in both body and mind is key to a holistic lifestyle, and there are many ways to prevent any issues occuring. Kiripost speaks to experts about how to avoid problems
Venerable monk Kou Sopheap. Kiripost/Yatt Malai
Venerable monk Kou Sopheap. Kiripost/Yatt Malai

Ry Monisovanya (Fia), the founder of Art of Mental Health (AMH), has spoken of her own experience using art to promote mental health, adding that art can be a way to help people feel better, especially if they do not have someone to talk to.

She added that using art to promote mental health is important because it can help people take interest in their health and take care of themselves. Mental health is still a relatively taboo topic in many parts of the world, so art can be a way to raise awareness and start conversations about it.

Monisovanya added that art can help people to not see themselves as victims of their mental health challenges. When people create art, they take control of their own story and express themselves in a way that is meaningful to them. This can help boost self-esteem and confidence, and can also be a way to connect with others who are struggling with similar challenges.

“We can use art to show our feelings when we meet problems and it is difficult for us to tell others. It is difficult to find people to listen to us,” Monisovanya said.

“As I am an artist, I show my feelings through many colors. I put my feelings in that color and what the color means. It can help us to have a better feeling,” she added. “It is better if we have someone to talk to, but use art if we don’t have someone to talk to.”

Psychiatrist Sy Rato, founder of AROM Station, said that there are three main factors that cause people to suffer with mental health. These include biological and hereditary factors. When people who have a family member with mental illness, it is more likely they may also suffer from mental illness, Rato said.

Psychiatrist Sy Rato, founder of AROM Station. Kiripost/Yatt Malai
Psychiatrist Sy Rato, founder of AROM Station. Kiripost/Yatt Malai

Rato added that psychology, including social factors, come from low income, poverty, debt, unemployment, unstable living conditions and environmental factors.

He said that everyone should learn to understand how to be in good mental health​ as, in general, mental illness is shown in feelings, thinking, appearance and the body.

People should take note of their actions. When they think in a negative way, it will lead them to imagine bad things, lose happy feelings, get headache, anxiety, fatigue, overeat or insomnia, he said.

Moreover, these symptoms can last for a long time, two weeks or more, and will affect their daily activities, he said, adding that only experts can identify whether there is mental illness or not, he added.

Rato said people should study to prevent it. If they know themselves, they can find some solutions, such as selfcare, meditation, and self-observation.

“I encourage all generations to try to understand about our mental health, study about mental health, and understand the way how to prevent mental health,” Rato said.

People should pay attention to the warning and talk to doctors or therapists to learn what might trigger symptoms. He advised contacting a doctor if they notice any change in symptoms or how they feel. Rato said getting enough sleep, healthy eating, and regular physical activity help prevent mental health issues.

First six months of this year, there were 473 attempted suicide times which 468 people died, 6 people were injured, according to official figures. If compared to the same period in 2022, there was an increase of 12 deaths but a decrease of 10 injuries.

Venerable monk Kou Sopheap, is one of the most respected monks in Cambodia and he said that people fall into depression due to many reasons and factors including society, economy, health and family conditions which make them feel pressured in their life.

“Mental health happens everywhere,” he said. So to prevent this problem, he said that everyone shouldn’t think and focus much about things which have already happened.

He said that some people keep worrying all the time that they couldn’t sleep and urged people to think positively and peacefully, “because many problems always have solutions.''

Sopheap said that he uses social media to publish his psychological teachings to people, including pictures, status, videos of talk shows, short films, and animation as an education purpose because he knows many people now are stressful.

He said that he is also so happy now to see Cambodian youths beginning to listen to his teachings as before only old people did and went to pagodas.

He believed that all his messages are using modern explanations, not the traditional message with technical words. His audience is between 18 to 35 years old on Facebook and YouTube, with men having the highest percentages compared with women.

Sopheap’s teaching comes as access to psychological support services remains difficult in Cambodia. He teaches people about life issues and how to overcome them.

Sreypov, 35, a company staff in Phnom Penh, said that in the beginning, she did not know she had a mental condition until she went to check with the doctors.

“I have become a child who has forgotten how to be as happy as other children. I’ve seen violent pictures every day,” Sreypov told Kiripost. “I’ve never gotten warm from my family, siblings start to break up because of our family’s conditions . My brothers and sisters left home to live with other people.”

“When I left school, I saw my parents arguing with each other until one day I wanted to feel like I wanted to live with other people who are not my relatives. I don't want to get anything from them, only I have a place to sleep, rice to eat is enough to escape from being afraid.”

In 2013, her mother became sick and she lost control of herself. After her mother got better a bit, her youngest sister started to be sick again. She remembers that she has become someone who is quiet, being afraid in groups and doesn't like to communicate with other people.

“I feel afraid, when I see other people, I start overthinking, it is pressure, I cannot sleep well until I use medicine to control,” Srey Pov said.
“People around me told me that maybe I had a problem with mental ilness, I didn't believe them. Sometimes I was angry with them until I decided to check up and finally the doctor told me I have this illness of anxiety disorder.”

After she knew, she did not know what to do. Then, she started to find a place where everyone didn't know where she was. She went away from family for more than three months and then last year, she decided to check with experts and follow instructions.

“The reason that I want to share it doesn’t mean I am not shy. When I go to hospital there are around 60 percent to 70 percent of people who have mental illness. So I want to tell other people who are facing or who haven’t yet they understand and resolve on time, don’t wait until everything is over.”

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