Youth: Open Space #15 : Youth and The Stress We Face

Published by AYF Secretariat on

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In this Open Space, AYF is providing a platform for youth to discuss the stress that we are facing right now. According to our survey during Youth: Open Space #5, 89% of youth experience mental health issues during the pandemic. Sadly, 20% of you do not have someone that they can talk to and do not know how to seek help. Besides the pandemic, youth face stress due to the crises related to employment, schools and universities, violence, etc.

On the 17th of October (Sunday), around 45 youth in Southeast Asia attended the session. The participating youth are coming from 9 countries, which are Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Cambodia, Singapore, Malaysia, The Philippines, and Timor-Leste. It was an entirely youth-led discussion, co-hosted by Hajar (Indonesia), Ricardo (Timor-Leste), Khant Khant (Myanmar) and Asyraf (Singapore).

While health is being highlighted during the pandemic, it is important to note that youth are also suffering from systems that does not promote youth wellbeing including mental healthAccording to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, there are some sources of stress which are but not limited to: 

  • School demands and frustrations 
  • Negative thoughts or feelings about themselves 
  • Changes in their bodies 
  • Problems with friends and/or peers at school 
  • Unsafe living environment/neighborhood 
  • Taking on too many activities or having too high expectations 
  • Family financial problems

In this open space, youth also discuss about the root causes of these stress sources which may be rooted in the broken system that we are living in.

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Here are some highlights from the session

As a youth and citizen, I also got stress because of the system of the government. I feel stressed because of the political situation in my country. Stress makes me unproductive. I don’t know if you can still be productive, but when I get stressed I don’t feel like doing anything. I just want to lay down and don’t do anything.

One thing I want to say is, you have to make yourself priority. Always.

Marco, The Philippines

I have problems with insecurity, I always compare myself with others. I think people are more beautiful than me, how they are a lot taller than me. Sometimes it’s just too much, and I just want to release it here.

Vichheka San, Cambodia

My friend said they have very sensitive notes, things that might be taboo in the society. But journaling can be escapism for him.

Irfan Gani, Indonesia

It is equally important to take care of your mental health same as your physical health ,stay fit and healthy both mentally and physically.

Md Yahaya, Myanmar

What I have learned is the things to reduce our stress and to promote our mental health. We have to handle out thought. We cannot handle stressful situations but we can handle our thought.

John Turing, Myanmar

We also have to consider the story behind their successfulness, such as their struggle and hard work. So, we have to focus more on our self-improvement. We can learn from other person’s successfulness but we do not have to push our self too much. If we just wondering on how our friend can get successful without us doing anything, it can lower our self- esteem.

Erlinda, Indonesia

it is important to do your best but your best are different everyday”. There can be the days that you do not feel very good but, ultimately, you should try.

Asyraf, Singapore


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