5 min read
Studying abroad and living far away from your familiar environment and loved ones is stressful. Though practicing self-care is essential to endure, sometimes all we need is a buddy!
Meet Phuoc (Annie) Hoang, an energetic and optimistic 4th year APM student from Vietnam. Annie is passionate about technology and creativity as she came up with APU MeWe to empower and support student’s mental health and wellness since 2021 together with multinational members.
Annie, representative of APU MeWe
What is APU MeWe?
APU MeWe’s Instagram
APU Mental Wellness (MeWe) is a collaborative student-led project that aims to become APU students’ first choice for mental health and wellness. With a strong passion, they hope to make the most of their time at APU and ensure that it can become a better community where students are supported in every way, particularly in mental health issues.
It is also selected for Project B* to receive financial aid and support in raising public awareness to expand operations.
*More about Project B: https://en.apu.ac.jp/studentsupport/page/content0317.html/
APU MeWe Team
What does APU MeWe do?
There are three main types of events that APU MeWe are operating online.
1. Wellness Literacy
Since some of the mental health topics are technical and unfamiliar, such as bipolar disorder and anxiety, we break them down into more digestible information. We relate to and educate APU students on different platforms.
2. Community Events
They created a platform for students to come together and share their thoughts or actively engage in organized mental health-related activities. Their biggest event is their “Let’s talk” event, in which they dive deep into the given topic of that session and ask the students to share their opinions.
This is considered to be a highly effective active discussion between the host and the participants.
They held two events in 2021, one was in Mental Health Awareness Week (May10 -16), and another was about self-deprecation on June 18. Overall, there have been more than 60 students who joined the events so far.
3. Buddies Consultation
MeWe also provides a peer support consultation service. In a one-on-one discussion, students can share personal issues with trained staff or “MeWe Buddies” as they make an effort to create a warm, welcoming, and inclusive environment with no judgments.
They will start accepting reservations again once the semester starts. Stay tuned!
The following is an interview with Annie, MeWe’s founder.
What was the motivation to start this project?
Annie：I have always wanted to touch on the topic of how students are truly feeling. They may not have a chance to express it, do not know how to express it, or have someone to express it to. When I was doing my exchange in Canada, I was shocked and amazed by how knowledgeable local people were about mental health. In many classes, you can consult with professors to miss a class if you are not feeling well. It was truly revolutionary, and I wanted to convey the mindset to APU community that "it is okay to share how you are feeling, whether good or bad."
Annie on exchange program at UBC, Canada
Together with my own experience, this idea came to fruition when COVID-19 came and unexpectedly, my study exchange program in Canada got cut short. I had to come back to Japan suddenly and I didn’t really have a house then. Also, I could not go back to my country. I had to deal with a lot of things at once, but luckily, I had friends who supported me and encouraged me to finally pull myself through that hard time. For these reasons, though I hope no one has to go through what I experienced, at least I can be there for them, like how my friends were there for me. That’s why we started APU MeWe at the beginning of 2021.
Lesson learned from this project
“There are a lot of ways to look at one thing”
Annie：I have realized that there are a lot of ways to look at one thing. The way individuals look at a certain topic is influenced by diverse personal experiences. So, there is no right or wrong answer as well as there is not only one suitable approach for everything. One example is how people deal with stress. Some tend to eat a lot, some people sleep, and others choose to socialize. For these reasons, instead of telling people how to deal with mental health, it is better to provide and facilitate a platform that leads them to the best result.
What you would like to say to other students?
Annie： I would like to encourage you guys to give yourself a chance to know more about yourself. Especially, if you might need help, just give yourself a chance and let other people help you. Actually, I am a very shy and independent person, so opening up was not something that I’m familiar with. But I would say that after I met people, I gradually got to share a bit about my worries. Of course I don’t share everything, but being in an environment where people support and want to be there for you can be very healing. So, just give yourself a chance and hopefully, you will with APU MeWe.
Online Interview with Annie, representaitve of APU MeWe
Special thanks to Annie for initiating such a positive project to enhance our APU community. I hope we all can manage our feelings and always find the bright side, like Annie’s favorite quote, “Magic in the Mundane.”
Sa-was-dee (greeting in Thai)! I’m Pim, a Fourth year APM student majoring in SMO (Strategic Management and Organization). I love to observe nature and learn from inspiring people and their lifestyles. I then turn those experiences into positive energy to drive myself towards a successful life - a happy life. Let me share it with you!