Workshops at Qatar Foundation have highlighted the importance of mental health and its impact on people
“Close your eyes, take a deep breath and inhale. Now try to remember an incident that brings up negative thoughts in your mind, and ask yourself, where is this voice coming from?
“Is it on the left or right side of your brain? How loud is this voice? Is it normal, average, or loud? If you could turn this voice into a shape, what shape would it be? Slowly remove this shape out of your head, bring it down, and place it on the floor? How do you feel now?"
This is how Asma Al-Kuwari, a life coach, helps people dive into their minds and rid themselves of negative thoughts, as she demonstrated during a workshop titled ‘Love Yourself: A Journey About You’, held at Multaqa (Education City Student Center) at Qatar Foundation.
It was one of a series of workshops in the field of mental health field organized by QF’s Alumni Office, and presented by a group of graduates and current students at QF who specialize in this area, and who want to play their part in explaining the importance of mental health and its impact on people’s lives.
Our role as life coaches is to change the stereotypes on mental health, and educate individuals about its importance, because it has a significant impact on their lives.
Al-Kuwari, who is an alumnus of a Qatar Foundation (QF) partner university Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar, and a Master’s graduate from QF member Hamad Bin Khalifa University, said: “In our community, we focus a lot about the professional aspect of our lives, and we forget to take care of our mental health.
“We are often placed under a lot of pressure regarding our future and achieving our goals. And we overthink the things we want to do or obtain. We must be aware that we cannot achieve our goals or offer anything to the community if we are feeling constrained."
"One of the things I usually face with people who come to me for consultation, is that they always blame themselves, looking at the problem or outcome, but not the solution. This creates a negative impact on the individual's psychology. For that reason, individuals must be able to accept and forgive themselves more. Our role as life coaches is to change the stereotypes on mental health, and educate individuals about its importance, because it has a significant impact on their lives.”
Sara Ahmed Al-Mulla, one of those who attended the workshop, said: “I usually spend most of my time at work, or with my friends and family. This workshop made me realize that I need enough time for myself, to develop, practice my hobbies, or do the things that make me happy. “I benefited a lot from it, and I encourage everyone to attend these kinds of workshops, especially at an early age. We all face many challenges and go through stress in our everyday lives, and we often share them with our family and friends. But I believe sharing these challenges with a professional will help us reach a better result because they help us see the big picture and guide us to find the answers ourselves."
Another attendee, Muneera Al-Borshaid, said: “I felt that I needed to gain some encouragement, and develop positive thoughts about my self-esteem and taking care myself.
For a culture to progress, it needs to develop its people first, so I think everyone must start from themselves.
“For a culture to progress, it needs to develop its people first, so I think everyone must start from themselves. I learned during the workshop how to accept myself as it is, and to appreciate my weaknesses before my strengths."
Another of the workshops, provided by Elizabeth Wood, focused on the science of personality profiling in psychology. Wood, who chose to be a life coach with the aim of giving back to the community, said: "Community members need to be aware of the importance of mental health as much as physical health because what affects us mentally affects our physical health.
“It is very important to be able to communicate with people around us, and in order to do that, we have to be psychologically, physically and emotionally healthy."
Wood's workshop looked at how personality profiles can help people improve their understanding of the different personalities around them, as well as their own. “The importance of knowing different character types and their attributes is that each individual is able to recognize the aspects they are affected by, which they can focus on and employee correctly,” she said.
In our lives, we find that everyone has a different personality type, each with its own style of dealing with others.
“They will also be able to recognize the aspects that makes them withdraw, which they can avoid. In our lives, we find that everyone has a different personality type, each with its own style of dealing with others. And if we know about these different types of personalities, we can deal with them in the right way, which will help maintain the psychological health of individuals.”
In a workshop presented by Reem Al Bannaw, a Master’s student at HBKU, titled ‘Coping with Stress’, participants learned about reducing the impact of life pressures and how men and women tackle challenges in different ways.
Speaking about her own experiences and her reasons for being a life coach, Al Bannaw said: “It was difficult for me to express myself sometimes.
“I have often received a lot of feedback from people around me, and been nervous or sensitive. It reached a point where even my relationships with those around me were not good. Then I visited a life coach, and talked with her about my problems, and I benefited greatly as she changed my life.”
"Having seen the impact, it made on my life, I decided to read more about mental health. I also joined many workshops and courses that have qualified me to become a life coach, in hopes of providing the support and help needed from someone in the community," she added.
Explaining the benefit of these workshops, Al Bannaw said: “They are very important in highlighting the particular feelings and thoughts that come up in everyone’s minds.
“For example, we all feel nervous and anxious, and these feelings would have an impact on our mental and physical health, so we have to understand how to deal with different situations. And we also discussed some of the differences between the way women and men deal with the challenges they face in their lives."