Aiman Amri (Exclusive Interview): Inspirational Mental Health Advocate With Big Dreams

by Izzati Haron

Nothing beats his fondness in learning human minds and behaviour. With a leap of faith in his career path, the ever-adamant young mental health advocate goes beyond the boundaries to pursue his passion in Psychology.

Hop on to this ride as we bring you along his journey in spreading mental health awareness to the society like no other. 

1. Can you please tell a little bit about yourself? Perhaps your educational background?

My name is Mohammad Aiman bin Amri. People know me as Aiman Amri or Aiman Psikologi. I graduated from University of Nottingham, United Kingdom with a degree in Psychology after earning my Diploma in Aeroplane Maintenance.

I’m currently working as an Academy Manager in Pusat Pakar Psikologi Jiwa Damai, a Psychology centre, which specializes in adult mental health and kids’ developmental disorders in Shah Alam.

2. Has Psychology always been your first choice?

It has always been my passion ever since my school years, but I did not pursue any academic field related to it because I thought, working in Psychology field will offer me no future. That used to be my perception.

However, after I finished my Diploma in Aeroplane Maintenance, I made a leap of faith to pursue my study in Psychology instead of Engineering because I found out that my passion for Psychology has always been there, deep within my heart.

3. What inspires you to voice out your thoughts, share your knowledge and reach out to many people out there, like you always do in your social media platform?

To be honest, it all goes back to my personality – I  love to share something with people. It started since my school years, and went on even during my Diploma year. Since 2010, I’ve been writing blog posts filled with informative content to those who wish to pursue their dream in Engineering field as well as my shared thoughts about the world.

I’ve been writing and talking to people because I love to share ideas and knowledge, which consequently, leads to me being a mental health advocate today.  I utilise all the platforms that I have, be it on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or even in real life scene.  

I am trying to become the most beneficial human being while I’m still breathing because that’s my motto:

to be fruitful to the society as much as I can.

4. What was the biggest challenge you’ve faced and how did you overcome it, before you become who you are today?

My biggest challenge was when I lost my late sister in 2017 due to cancer, and that somehow brought me to the pit of darkness. I struggled a lot during those days. I had been in so much pain and I was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder.

For six months straight, I could not work well and I had trouble breathing. The journey to recovery has never been easy, but it’s worth it.

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During those hard times, I had all the support and therapy I needed until I’m finally free from MDD. Well, sometimes the negative thoughts still haunt me but I have learnt how to counter them. I know when I’m going to relapse and what do I do about it before I fall into another series of relapse afterwards.

I must say it all thanks to my wife. She has always been my moral support and the one who persuaded me to seek treatment before we got married.

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She mentioned how she doesn’t mind having a future husband who has a mental disorder as long as he works hard to make himself better. I used that as an inspiration to finally seek help.

I had more than 10 therapy sessions with my therapist and I’m happy to let you know that the final session ended last month! Meaning that I no longer have to seek for another therapy after this, InsyaAllah.

5. Congratulations on that! So, I’ve noticed that you’ve ventured into writing recently. Can you tell us a little bit about your latest book published with Aiman Azlan?

Basically, Aiman Azlan and I, a student of counselling and a public speaker respectively, agree that there is a lack of support and guidance among youngsters in Malaysia pertaining mental health issues.

Thus, we decided to write a book as a guideline or should I say, an inspiration, to those who are struggling with mental illnesses, especially depression, anxiety and stress.

The book is written not necessarily to cure the patients, but to give support to them and make other people understand their struggle.

It consists of two parts. The first part is specially written for those who are struggling with these issues; and second, to the people who actually know someone who is suffering from any of the aforementioned mental illnesses.  

6. Do you have any plan to write or collaborate more after this? If yes, on what topic and with whom?

Actually, yes, we (Aiman Azlan and I) sort of thinking to publish another book on personalities. We are trying to get out of mental health issues and venture into personality traits.

It’s not about disorders, but varieties in personality such as introverts, extraverts, the Big 5 personalities. We want to write more about that because we realized that there is a lack of knowledge related to Psychology, especially in layman’s terms, to the youngsters.

Actually, I have three future collaborations, InsyaAllah. First, with Aiman Azlan. We are planning to write a book about the Big 5 personalities.

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Second, to write a book specifically on introverts, which I will be collaborating with an introvert friend of mine called Aqila Izzati. I will write on the Psychological perspective while Aqila will tackle on the perspective of an introvert herself as she can write very well and it certainly wouldn’t be a problem for her to write on something, which is so close to her.

Third, I’m planning to write my own book, without any collaboration, and it shall revolve around mental health and depression among millennials. 

7. What are your thoughts on the level of understanding among Malaysian society towards mental illnesses?

Generally speaking, the awareness is there and people have started to become more conscious of the issues.  They are showing more empathy and sympathy towards people who are struggling with mental health issues.

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However, in the meantime, there are still people who see mental illnesses as a sign of weakness as well as lack of faith. The stigma is still there, but I must say the understanding is getting better.

If you were to ask me, five years ago, people didn’t even know what is depression. They always thought that people with mental illnesses are abnormal and straightforward crazy.

But it’s different now as there will always be two sides of the argument when it comes to mental health issues. The first side being those who back up the patients while the other one would be those who blame the victims.

Overall, I would rate our level of understanding as 6/10. Our perception on mental illnesses are still not the same as when it comes to physical illnesses, which in no doubt, receive more attention.

11. Is there any topic or issue that you wish to share with others which you haven’t shared before?

As for now, I’m trying to utilise the two different platforms that I have. Twitter is for mental health sharing while Facebook to spread the awareness on autism as I work daily with autistic kids.

Back to the question, I wish to venture into something which is related to introverts after this. This is due to the stigma that people have always stamped on them. People tend to have the perception that introverts  cannot speak well in public and do not know how to socialize with others.

More often than not, when introverts ring me, they would ask the same questions of how to be more extrovert and how to socialize better. The thing is, being introvert itself is a strength, which not many realize.

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Thus, I wish to change people’s mindset on these kinds of things.

12. What are your future plans?

My future plan would be to pursue my master’s in Clinical Psychology as it has always been my dream to become a certified clinical psychologist from the Malaysia’s Society of Clinical Psychology (MSCP).  But as for now, I’m still thinking whether I should enrol into UKM, UIA or USM.

13. Any advice that to the youngsters out there who wish to make better changes to the society but are too afraid to get out of their comfort zones?

First of all, I would say having a comfort zone is good. It is always good to have one because it can become your go-to hideout whenever you feel tired or scared.

However, if you stay in your comfort zone for too long, nothing will change in your life. That’s why it’s important to try learning something new every day.

No matter how small it is, even as small as saying ‘Hi!’ to the  pak guard who takes care of the main entrance of our university, or perhaps greeting the makcik cleaner who sweeps the floor every morning.

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Try to make a simple change in your life every single day. People will see it as a small thing, but it shall be a huge one for you.

So, never underestimate the power of small things because a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

Second, my advice is for us to realize what is our true potential and strength and try to make them beneficial to the society. I always believe in this philosophy:

If you have something to offer, offer it to the society. Doesn’t matter how insignificant you think it might be. Because I believe everyone has their own strength and capabilities to share with the world.

In Islam, we are always reminded: “The best of people are those that bring most benefits to the rest of mankind.” So, make yourself beneficial as much as you can in order to reap what you sow in the hereafter. Doesn’t matter what strength you have, just share it to the world, offer to the society and help more! 

More Info

Do make your way to Aiman Amri’s blogInstagram, Twitter and Facebook page to know more about him and to get the latest updates from the mental health advocate himself!

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You can also head over to our blog for more exclusive interviews like this and on other available topics.

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