Trainer and social worker at Social Services of Cambodia
What are the problems that youth often face?
The problems that they face are related to their daily activities such as school, relationships, love or material desires. I have observed that the most common problem youth have is love. The society often thinks that it is a small problem but for youth, but it is a big problem, and we can see that if they feel depressed about their love life it can lead to suicide, alcohol and drug use, or other activities that are dangerous to them and their family.
Who should youth take their problems to?
If it’s about money, they always go to their family for clothes or other materials, but, in most cases, youth go to their friends first, because it can help reduce their stress. Everyone wants to find someone who is easy to communicate with, and youth are no exception. They tend to find the people the same age who can understand their circumstances and support their decisions. However, old people are often annoyed with problems of the youth which they consider insignificant.
In some universities, there are counselors who are there for youth who need to talk about their problems. They can share some advice or provide some possible solutions. Another way for youth to share their problems is by writing a letter about their problems and sending it to a magazine or calling a radio station to ask the experts for some comments.
Besides, there are some other stress-relief strategies like keeping a diary, doing exercises, shouting out loud and crying, but it really depends on the different commitment of each person.
How can the youth make sure they can trust that person?
It is important to be careful with your secrets because some individuals can spread your problems. The result is even more embarrassment, negative feelings and possibly dangerous behaviour. So youth must be their own judge of how much they can trust a person. Psychologists also have an ethical obligation not to tell other people about the conversations with their clients, so they can be a good option.
How can youths convince parents to listen to their problems?
Youth should realise that what their parents are telling them, even if it seems hurtful or accusatory, can often help them become a better person. Once they have accepted their parents’ criticism, they should pull their parents aside when they are in a good mood and talk about their problems. What seems like a big problem can become a small one.
What is your suggestion regarding youth problem-solving?
It is common for people to feel like they have no clear path to deal with their problems, and sometimes there won’t be anyone to talk with. It is necessary to try to increase their own capacity and understand their strengths and weak points to fight back at the problem. They should learn to solve a problem effectively so that they can stand strong instead of resorting to suicide or using drugs. We cannot expect someone else to be there for us all the time.
Mol Nimol, 21, a junior in the French department at the Institute of Foreign Languages and a senior at the National University of Management
What problems have you had in your life that have been difficult for you to talk about?
My problems have been with academics, particularly when I failed an exam and couldn’t tell my parents. The reason was because I couldn’t deal with the time constraints. It really hurt and shocked me since it was the first time I failed and I was so embarrassed in front of my friends. I cried for two days and, even though I knew that my parents wouldn’t mind, it took half a month for me to tell them.
Who did you talk to about it?
I told my close friend who was also my roommate, but not my classmates because I didn’t know how to tell them. I did not want to hide my problems at all because I knew it was the truth and I would have to acknowledge it sooner or later.
Seoun Chanphearun, freshman at Cambodian Mekong University and the Institute of Foreign Languages
What problems in your life have been difficult to talk about?
My greatest difficulty is my inability to control myself and follow through with my commitments. For example, I plan to review the lesson at a particular time; however, when the time arrives, I just watch a movie instead. This always happens to me, but I can’t complain because I know it’s my own fault.
Who did you talk to about it?
Eventually I took my problems to my lecturer. He said I should limit distractions and control myself as much as I can and eventually develop a habit. It is like reading a book that seems boring at first, but you eventually get into it and start to enjoy it. Since I worked on changing, I would say the frequency of this problem has gone from 80 percent of the time to 30 percent today.
Chhor Sophara, a sophomore at the Institute of Foreign Languages and an accounting graduate at the National University of Management
What problems have you had in your life that has been difficult for you to talk about?
In my second year at NUM, I decided to apply for an international study program at IFL although I did not know what it was about. It took a lot of time for me to realise that I was not wasting my time with international studies but actually improving my English and general knowledge.
Who did you talk about it?
I had no one but my friends to talk with. At first, I used to think that telling them would be shameful and reveal a secret, but my friends always came to me with their problems, so why not go to them?