The NUMS Department of Public Health (NDPH) in collaboration with Firefly organized an awareness session titled, “Anxiety: Contemporary Issues in Youth on November 3rd, 2021. The session was moderated by BSPH students Miss Iffa Zahid and Mr Waleed Shiekh and attended by faculty and students. As mental illness is one of leading contributory of years loss to productive life and is growing into a silent epidemic among youth, it is important for education institutions to create awareness and safe place where students feel comfortable to talk their issues. Moreover, COVID 19 pandemic has worsened the situation evident by the increasing new cases of anxiety and depression.
The Firefly organization is dedicated to raising awareness, changing the talk, and finding solutions for the students. Their team. Mr Abdullah Kiyani, co-founder of the organization and Tamara Albaja, visiting psychologist, briefed the student regarding stigmas and taboos related to mental health, common issues, management techniques and the role of peers, parents, teachers and society at large in lending support. The team shared a presentation, discussed their personal journey and how it inspired them to establish Firefly. The highlight was the interactive session of students. The students appreciated the efforts of the young leadership and showed great interest in their volunteer work. The students discussed issues including expectations to do well at school from parents and family, peer pressure, social relationships with friends, extracurricular commitments and life challenges. Mr Abdullah encouraged students to discuss their anxiety and fears with their parents and trusted colleagues. He emphasized the need of trained psychologist in educational institutions and availability of platforms for students to talk freely without any prejudice about anxiety and stress. The team also explained internship initiatives and research opportunities within their organizations and encouraged establishment of mental wellness societies within institutions for creating awareness.
Dean MDS Prof Dr. Aisha Mohyuddin, in her concluding remarks counseled students regarding peer pressure, norms of social media, importance of parents advice and reminded that good intentions are always rewarded. Prof. Dr. Uzma Hassan, Head of Department DPH gave note of thanks to all the participants and guests. She acknowledged the contribution of Firefly organization and appreciated faculty of DPH including, Dr Tamkeen Jaffery, Dr Hina Shan, Dr Rehma Gilani and Ms Rubab Zulfiqar for providing supervision to the students in the arrangement of events. The event was concluded with the pledge that NUMS will continue such events to create mental health awareness and encourage students to discuss issues with their teachers, friends and parents.