KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 27 -- There is a need to emphasise the importance of emotional literacy, which is a cornerstone of mental health, said Mental Health Promotion Advisory Council member Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye.
He said emotional literacy plays an important part in the lives of students and must be integrated into the learning environment.
“The integration of emotional literacy in the learning environment is crucial to enable collaborative learning in classrooms with teachers and students giving respectful space to each other, and developing good quality relationships between teachers and students,” he said in a statement today.
Noting that emotional literacy is all about feelings and understanding, he said for students to be effective learners, emotional literacy must be sensitively integrated at home (parental guidance) and in schools (teachers’ guidance).
“This forms a framework for students to develop self-esteem, self – confidence and life skills which are communication and personal skills," he said.
Lee said there is a need to encourage students to have a voice to ensure they are heard, and to nurture a classroom atmosphere where discussions and disagreements can occur so that students feel safe and not be intimidated.
Stressing that students must be encouraged to express their feelings freely, he said it was important that when in conversation, teachers should try to talk with the students rather than to them, allow the exchange of ideas and thoughts, and allow them the space to listen and be listened to.
“They also need to be encouraged to speak up and speak out and enable the sharing of differences and not to see those as threatening. This promotes personal growth,” he added.
On another note, Lee said the management of an organisation should strive to show that they care about the welfare of their workers by holding open dialogues at work, whether through team events, discussion groups, one-on-one lunches or coffee meetings.
Lee, who is also patron of the Malaysian Psychiatric Association, said a recent study showed that employees who experienced burnout were less engaged and unproductive.
As the success of any organisation depends on the mental health of its workers, he said employers must also show empathy to their workers and ensure them that they had made the right choice when meeting their superiors for advice and guidance.
He said mental health has often been a topic of low priority for the community and the government, and has not been given adequate attention in comparison to other health issues.
“In reality, the government, public health practitioners and citizens alike, devote little attention and consequently fewer resources to mental health although the suffering caused by mental illness and mental disorders is quite staggering,” he added.