Helping teens through the tough times Teenage author and mental health advocate says empathy is key to supporting struggling young people

Helping teens through the tough times  Teenage author and mental health advocate says empathy is key to supporting struggling young people

Prachaya Sirimahaariyapoya, 15, deputy of the Children and Youth Council in Bangkok and an author. Photos: Prachaya Sirimahaariyapoya

When Prachaya Sirimahaariyapoya was eight years old, she noticed that one of her classmates and a neighbour always wore a long sleeve shirt or jacket even on hot days. One day, the classmate took her jacket off and Prachaya saw several cuts on her classmate's arms. She was under pressure because of her parents' high expectations. Prachaya asked her mother to take her classmate to see a psychiatrist but the psychiatrist needed permission from the classmate's parents. The mother of her classmate thought her daughter was fine and did not need any consultation.

Prachaya’s classmate is one of many young people who have mental health issues. According to the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Rajanagarindra Institute, a study of over 5,300 subjects aged 11 to 19 years old from 13 provinces stated that 17.5% had depression, 5.1% had suicidal tendencies and 6.4% attempted suicide.

At the age of 11, Prachaya was president of the Children and Youth Council of Bangkapi District and became a key person to send a letter to the director of the Department of Mental Health in 2018. The letter urged changes to the Mental Health Act B.E. 2008 section 21 in order to allow people aged under 18 to undergo mental treatment without parental or guardian permission. There was no movement from authorities for a year. In 2019, Prachaya met with Dr Satit Pitutecha, Deputy Minister of Public Health, to discuss this issue. As a result, people under 18 can now seek help from a psychiatrist or a psychologist in a hospital without parental permission.

Prachaya is now a 15-year-old homeschooled student, activist and deputy of the Children and Youth Council in Bangkok. She works on several projects such as mental health, pregnancy prevention in adolescents and media literacy. She recently released a book, Changemaker, published by Nanmee Books. Changemaker tells readers about teenage mental health issues and her experiences as an activist. Life spoke to Prachaya about her book and adolescent mental health issues.

What was it like when you tried to convince adult committees to allow young people to meet a psychiatrist without their parents’ consent?

After the first meeting, only a few committee members supported me. Then, I tried to understand why others ignored the issue and why some of them thought young people had no stress and were not likely to be depressed. I talked to them and found that in the past, cyberbullying didn’t exist and even though some of them went through bad experiences, they eventually became successful people. Hence, they assume that it is not necessary to see a psychiatrist. It took time for me to convince them to listen to me and have empathy for young people.

Why do many parents refuse to take their children to see a psychiatrist?

Many parents have the mindset that people who see a psychiatrist are crazy. They also worry that their children will have a history of mental health issues and that will affect their university admission or that people will talk negatively behind their back. Some parents believe that they raised their children properly, so their children do not have a mental health issue. Parents will seek consultation only after their children go through a critical or life-threatening situation. However, by that time, it may be too late to seek help.

How does the situation of young people’s mental health issues compare with a few years ago?

In the last three or four years, young people were not aware if they had mental health issues. However, I talked to many psychiatrists and they said many youngsters nowadays understand their mental problems better and have basic information about depression or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) before going to see psychiatrists. I also receive messages from parents discussing their children’s problems. I feel that they understand their children’s depression and other issues more than before.

How are some mental health issues caused by parents?

Some parents have high expectations of their children. When their children fail to meet their expectations, they do not receive any consolation from their parents. On the contrary, they receive a negative reaction. This makes children feel that parents do not accept their faults, so the children are under pressure to meet their expectations. They are burdened to become successful and this can lead to depression.

Who are the target readers of your book Changemaker?

The target group are all young readers but people of all ages can read it. Most youngsters are afraid of making changes. They wonder if they can accomplish the challenge. I hope the book encourages young people to make changes and do the right thing to make the world a better place. I also hope that adults will understand youngsters and their children from reading the cases presented in my book.

Can you tell us more about the one-day mental health camp that the Children and Youth Council organises for young people at schools and communities?

Helping teens through the tough times  Teenage author and mental health advocate says empathy is key to supporting struggling young people

Changemaker by Prachaya Sirimahaariyapoya. Prachaya Sirimahaariyapoya

We want to inform young people about mental health issues but we do not want to lecture them, so we introduced concepts in the form of games. In the morning, students will learn about depression and basic knowledge about mental health. In the afternoon, there are focus groups. The one-day camp is an important activity because after the focus group, we notice young people suffering from depression and divide them into groups according to their symptoms — mild, moderate and severe. For the severe symptom group, the members have attempted suicide before. We need to discuss with their teachers in order to send them to a hospital for treatment.

How can people who have different perspectives communicate and understand one another?

Effective communication must come from both parties. People who have never understood each other usually neglect their problems and choose to not communicate with others. If people intend to communicate with each other, they can work things out. For example, when parents complain about why children spend much time on their phones and do not study, their children will not listen to the whining of their parents. Both parents and children must set rules together of how much phone time should be allowed in a day.

What emotion management lessons would you want to include in school lessons?

Emotion management lessons will be a part of health education from primary to high school. We have developed lessons from many countries such as the UK and Japan but we will not mix all the lessons and launch them for Thai students. We will analyse what Thai students need to learn and how to adapt the lessons to be compatible with Thai society. The lessons are not lectures. Students will observe their emotions, record them each day and discuss them with teachers or classmates. Each student will figure out how to manage their emotions by themselves because there is no one formula that can be used for emotion management of different people.

Why do you always emphasise empathy?

Empathy is a skill that everyone can practise to understand others by listening to them. Everyone has this skill from a young age. However, they do not use it as they get older and the skill disappears. If family members have empathy, children will have good mental health because they can consult with their family members. When they are with their family, they are in a safe space. At the national level, if authorities have empathy for people, they will listen carefully to those who encounter problems and try to help them resolve their problems.

Why should people love themselves?

If we love ourselves, we can forgive ourselves in any situation. This is difficult for young people who feel that they have no one to love them. It is normal for youngsters to want affection and attention from others. However, when they realise they have no support from others, they will learn to rely on themselves and love and take care of themselves. When they love themselves, they will not harm themselves.

Internet Explorer Channel Network
News Related

OTHER NEWS

San Francisco 49ers receiver Deebo Samuel joins agency Excel Sports to boost off-field income

San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel heads to the end zone on a touchdown catch against the Seattle Seahawks on Oct. 3, 2021 at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, ... Read more »

Labanoon frontman joins Democrats in Narathiwat Party leader Jurin hails arrival of new face, fans wonder if popular band has a future

Labanoon lead singer Metee Arun (centre) poses with two bandmates to promote song their song Tha Phayu in September. (Photo from Labanoon Facebook account) Labanoon lead singer and guitarist Metee ... Read more »

SRT condemns Red Line vandalism Rail agency asks public for information on identities of those who toppled barriers at Chatuchak site

A metal fence toppled by intruders is seen at the Red Line railway site at Nikhom Rodfai Km 11 in Chatuchak district of Bangkok. (Photo: @pr.railway Facebook page) The State ... Read more »

Events and listings: Food, exhibitions, concerts

SINGAPORE – Savour your hunger for food deals, sign up for a health talk, or check out the Halloween Horror Nights Exhibition at Universal Studios Singapore. Food & drink M ... Read more »

PM hails arrival of Russell Crowe, film crew

The arrival of Hollywood star Russell Crowe to make a movie in Thailand, and his tweeted pictures and messages about Thais, the food and scenery brought pride to the nation, ... Read more »

PM hails arrival of Russell Crowe's film crew

The arrival of Hollywood star Russell Crowe to make a movie in Thailand, and his tweeted pictures and messages about Thais, the food and scenery brought pride to the nation, ... Read more »

Root Awakening: Swiss Cheese Plant, 'Mickey Mouse Taro' and more

A Swiss cheese plant (left) and Marvel Of Peru plant. Swiss cheese plant has matured This huge climbing plant has been growing in my garden for years without much care ... Read more »

Korat's Talad Suranaree farm market reopening

Vendors at Talad Suranaree in Muang district of Nakhon Ratchasima prepare their stalls for reopening on Saturday, a month after it was closed by a Covid-19 outbreak. (Photo: Prasit Tangprasert) ... Read more »

HUAWEI, partnering with government and private sector, organises final round of ‘Spark-Ignite 2021 – Thailand Start-up Competition' Aiming to enhance digital startups while empowering Thailand to become ASEAN Digital Hub

Huawei Technologies (Thailand) Co., Ltd., together with partners from government and the private sectors, recently held the final round of ‘Spark-Ignite 2021 – Thailand Start-up Competition’, enabling Thai startups to ... Read more »

Former J-idol Momoe Yamaguchi to become a grandmother next year

TOKYO – Former Japanese idol Momoe Yamaguchi, who was a big star during the 1970s, is set to be a grandmother after her son and daughter-in-law announced the latter’s pregnancy ... Read more »

Compo for family of student who died after first jab

A portrait on Surachai Orsapanich is seen with his coffin and funeral wreaths at Wat Pa Jitta Samakkhi in Muang district, Nakhon Ratchasima, on Thursday. He died at the age ... Read more »

Fast Lane: Polestar 2 arrives soon, longer-range MG EV to come in 2022

The Polestar 2 hits 100kmh in 7.4 seconds. Polestar readies to take on Tesla here The Polestar 2 electric performance saloon will be available in three forms. The 224hp single-motor ... Read more »

Transgender live-streamed sex with boyfriend to subscribers

Police detain Karnklao Klomkan, 30, alias Nong Phrai, for allegedly streaming sexual activities with her boyfriend to paying subscribers on a LINE group, in Tak’s Sam Ngao district on Thursday. ... Read more »

Singer Lady Gaga grabs attention with a boa made of US$100 bills

Lady Gaga was rumoured to be flying on a private jet to Las Vegas to return to her residency at MGM’s Park Theater. LOS ANGELES – Singer Lady Gaga, who ... Read more »

GetLinks hits record numbers in pandemic times, and launching New AI Digital Talents Platform supporting freelancers and global remote work

GetLinks Job Search is specifically set to assist digital professionals in their search for all types of work, including full-time, project-based, freelance or remote Bangkok, 5 October 2021 — GetLinks, ... Read more »

VNU Asia Pacific drives scientific laboratory equipment market through the full-fledged online event: Thailand LAB & FutureCHEM INTERNATIONAL 2021

VNU Asia Pacific in association with Science and Technology Trade Association and Thailand Center of Excellence for Life Sciences (Public Organisation) under the Ministry of Higher Education, Science, Research and ... Read more »

NIA and FutureTales Lab by MQDC launch podcast on Thailand 2030 6 dimensions Thailand must address with innovative policies

National Innovation Agency (Public Organization), or NIA, and FutureTales Lab by Magnolia Quality Development Corporation Limited (MQDC) are launching a podcast “Futures MEME” under the project “Futures and Beyond: Navigating ... Read more »

Frasers Property Thailand celebrates the success of ‘One Platform' strategy with new TRIS rating upgrade to ‘A'

Frasers Property (Thailand) Public Company Limited, or FPT, the first company with a fully-integrated real estate platform in Thailand, on 15 October 2021 announced that TRIS Rating has upgraded the ... Read more »

The Chic Home: Five-room HDB flat blends luxe elements for timeless appeal

The square layout and high floor with unobstructed views ticked all the right boxes for these homeowners. SINGAPORE – Two business consultancy owners, who want to be known only as ... Read more »

More Covid-19 lockdowns in Nakhon Si

A screening checkpoint at the entrance to a locked-down community in Muang district of Nakhon Si Thammarat. Five more communities were closed off on Friday as Covid-19 continued to spread ... Read more »

Demolition of encroaching resorts underway, 19 years on

The view from the twin resorts found to be encroaching on Srinakharin Dam National Park in Sri Sawat district, Kanchanaburi, 19 years ago. Demolition will take another month. (Photo: Piyarat ... Read more »

'Art transcends race': Paris Opera Ballet's first Asian etoile ballerina

Sae Eun Park is the first Asian ballerina to reach the top etoile rank in the Paris Opera Ballet’s 352-year history. SEOUL: When Sae Eun Park auditioned for the world's ... Read more »

Fit and fun Active venues to get the adrenaline going

Since the government has eased restrictions for all sports venues in Bangkok, many are eager to get back on the fitness track. Besides the obvious go-to gyms, there are alternative ... Read more »

Network 2025 Enabling APAC Business Success

Gary Lu, President of Network Marketing & Solution Sales Department, Huawei The Asia Pacific Target Network Conference themed “Consolidate Elastic Target Network, Unlocking New Digital Value” concluded online on October ... Read more »

A city getaway De-stress at Centara Grand at CentralWorld

Travelling to a nearby province for a beach or a tranquil mountain stay is great, but just staying in the city offers as much as all the trappings of a ... Read more »

The DIY revolution Take down a regime with homemade chaos in Far Cry 6

The latest entry to the Far Cry franchise takes you on yet another journey of liberating a location from the clutches of a villainous madman. While the game remains largely ... Read more »

Less is more La Scala welcomes a new chef and cooking style

Chef Eugenio Cannoni. (Photos: LA SCALA SUKHOTHAI) A few courses into chef Eugenio Cannoni's first tasting menu at La Scala and you'll notice that each dish is monochromatic. But that ... Read more »

The Supersports ‘Celebrate Our Heroes' Campaign – invites everyone to keep moving and fighting Big promotions coming to celebrate the 24th anniversary, boosting in-store and online sales in celebration of all of our heroes out there, keeping bodies and minds strong for any situation to come

Supersports, Thailand's No. 1 sporting goods store under Central Retail, is celebrating its 24th anniversary with the Celebrate Our Heroes campaign to express gratitude to all those who have been ... Read more »

Pandemic leads to epidemic The Covid-19 crisis has led to a rapid rise in household trash, including problematic contaminated waste. How the city addresses this may determine Bangkok's future

Bangkok, as the city that generates the highest amount of waste per day in Thailand, saw over 2.2 million tonnes of trash in 2018, according to figures from the Department ... Read more »

A new generation slasher Netflix's There Is Someone Inside Your House is meant for Gen Z audiences but it suffers from a lack of originality and is too predictable

Théodore Pellerin as Oliver ‘Ollie’ Larsson in There’s Someone Inside Your House. DAVID BUKACH/NETFLIX Recycling stories isn't new but common practice in Hollywood. However, it seems to be the main ... Read more »

Time is not on anybody's side Making its Asian premiere in Busan, Jakrawal Nilthamrong's new film is a study of old age and the unstoppable march of time

A scene from Anatomy Of Time. There's the anatomy — the bone and the flesh, supple or flaccid. Then there's time, the cruellest judge of all. In Jakrawal Nilthamrong's Anatomy ... Read more »

Sühring makes World's 50 Best Restaurants list

Sühring restaurant in Bangkok has been named No.40 on the 2021 World's 50 Best Restaurants list, the highest entry from Thailand this year. Celebrated last week in Antwerp, Belgium, the ... Read more »

Double time Chopard's Alpine Eagle Cadence 8HF beats with a high-frequency heart

Alpine Eagle Cadence 8HF in titanium. In 2012 Chopard played a pioneering role in commercialising the world's first chronometer-certified timepiece oscillating at a frequency of 8Hz, for achieving a higher ... Read more »

Asean gets set for the digital era

Asean members are accelerating efforts to upgrade the digital economy within the bloc to brave digital challenges brought about by the pandemic. Trade Negotiations Department director-general Auramon Supthaweethum, who plans ... Read more »

Torque Shop: Driving a car with worn engine mountings will cause other parts to deteriorate

A car engine with a faulty fuel or ignition system will not run smoothly. My car has recently begun to feel rough. It has lost its smoothness during idling and ... Read more »

Man offers family's organs to save home

A local government official has offered to sell his family's eyes and kidneys in a desperate bid to raise money after his house and land were seized because he was ... Read more »

Microsoft shuttering LinkedIn in China as rules tighten

LinkedIn is shuttering the Chinese version of its job-focused social network. NEW YORK: Microsoft on Thursday said it will shut down career-oriented social network LinkedIn in China, citing a “challenging ... Read more »

DoH to seek B9bn to fund Pathum Thani road project

The Department of Highways (DoH) is preparing to seek almost 9 billion baht to fund a 10-kilometre road project in Pathum Thani. Sarawut Songsivilai, chief of the department, said the ... Read more »

'Human trafficker' nabbed

A woman was arrested in Samut Prakan yesterday for allegedly luring Thai women into forced prostitution in Bahrain. Police from the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Division, led by its chief, Pol ... Read more »

Cultural Medallion batik artist Sarkasi Said, 81, dies from kidney failure

Mr Sarkasi Said used batik techniques in groundbreaking new ways to create contemporary art. SINGAPORE – Cultural Medallion recipient Sarkasi Said died on Thursday evening (Oct 14) of kidney failure. He ... Read more »