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M’sian teacher advocating for mental health now can’t get a job due to stigma

M’sian teacher advocating for mental health now can’t get a job due to stigma

Akmal Hakim

Mental illness is kinda weird, and by weird we mean how society chooses to perceive and discuss it.

Most people think that they get what mental health is and how someone who’s struggling with mental illness is going through.

The woke bunch would go on and on about how ” it’s okay to be anxious or depressed” and how “suicide is a coward’s way out” and icing it up with the “we know what you’re going through” and the “we’ll always be there for you” talk.

But the sad truth is that people who go through life with mental illnesses and chose to speak about it are often met with stigma and a whole lot of false empathy that has actual real-life consequences.

In a thread posted on Twitter, Safwan Jebat writes about the challenges he had to go through as a person struggling with mental illness and living in an indifferent society.

Previously, Safwan received viral attention for sharing the hardships of living with clinical depression and Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD).

Safwan dressing up to teach classes in his own creative way
(Image Credit: Twitter)

Working as a substitute teacher at the time, the TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language) graduate became an overnight star for his uniquely imaginative teaching style and how his short time being with his students had saved him from depression.

Safwan was also featured in an episode of TV3’s Malaysia Hari Ini, sharing his story and what inspires him to become an educator.

But, since going public about his condition and taking a strong stance as an advocate of mental illness, Safwan’s life has been turned upside down.

He says that ever since word got out of what he was going through, it been even more difficult for him to secure a job.

Speaking to TRP, Safwan says that since his teaching contract ended, he has gone 2 months without work and is struggling to make an income.

Safwan who is currently freelancing as a tutor has 1 student under his care, but due to his condition, he said that some parents were reluctant to have him teaching their kids. And with the school semester coming to an end, things are not really looking up.

Even more disheartening is the fact that Safwan has received many hurtful messages and attacks on social media, as well as being ignored and rejected by the people around him.

Safwan confessed that recently he even came close to the edge and tried to take his own life, but has since been seeking professional help and going through therapy to cope with his condition.

Though going through turbulent times, Safwan does not regret the path that he has chosen and will continue to remain vocal in championing the mental health cause.

Safwan would also not back down from realising his dreams to become a teacher, even if the doors might be closed to him here in Malaysia.

I love teaching so much. Teaching saved me from depression and suicidal thoughts. I don’t want to die with (this) gift that God has given me, which is teaching. I would love to contribute, no matter where, Thailand, Indonesia, Korea…

Safwan told TRP

Safwan’s story reveals that our society still has a long way to go in the fight for mental health awareness, even with the efforts by the government to create a more informed community who are attentive towards the issue.

You can read his full thread here;

If you have been struggling with mental illness, share with us your experiences on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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