Covid-19 in Brunei: ‘OK Kah Kita?’ programme to address mental health challenges

Participants in the ‘OK Kah Kita?’ programme held online in Bandar Seri Begawan recently. - Borneo Bulletin/ANN

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN, Sept 20 (Borneo Bulletin/ANN): The Australian High Commission in Brunei hosted a virtual discussion with leaders from 32 academic institutions and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to commence a four-week virtual Mental Health Youth Champions Programme titled "OK Kah Kita?" recently.

The programme will bring together over 100 young Bruneians and school counsellors to hear from Australian NGOs working to address mental ill-health.

Legislative Council member Khairunnisa Ash’ari participated in the discussion.

During the discussion, Australian High Commissioner to Brunei Tiffany McDonald spoke about the inspiration behind "OK Kah Kita?"

“In 2009, an Australian NGO called R U OK? Day was founded by Australian Gavin Larkin OAM who – like me – lost his father to suicide. Larkin was a passionate advocate of the idea that one question – such as "OK Kah Kita?" – could change a life,” she said.

“Covid-19 has exacerbated mental health challenges for many, to the point where it is considered a ‘shadow pandemic’.

"The OECD estimates that young people are 30 to 80 times more likely to be experiencing depression and anxiety because of Covid-19 than adults. Now, more than ever, it’s important to ask each other a question like "OK Kah Kita?"

“Our hope is that this programme can empower Brunei’s young people to start a conversation with their peers and breakdown the stigma that is too often associated with talking about mental health,” she added.

Participants shared their reflections on the mental health challenges facing young people in Brunei, particularly in the context of Covid-19, as well as ideas on how to address them.

The "OK Kah Kita" Mental Health Youth Champions Programme is curated by Curious Mind, run by Australian alumni Shaun Hoon. The Youth Champions Programme is part of the Australian High Commission’s Mental Health Matters Month. - Borneo Bulletin

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