SJ ASSEMBLYWOMAN MICHELLE NG INITIATES INTEGRATED MENTAL HEALTH ECO-SYSTEM
MAY 23, 2019 @ 9.45 PM
Do not suffer in silence. That is the message that SJ Care Warriors – initiated by Subang Jaya Assemblywoman Michelle Ng is sending across to all Malaysians.
The programme supported by a team of medical and non-medical volunteers is a two-prong approach namely gatekeeper training on suicide prevention by a team of clinical psychologists and psychiatrists and secondly, a team of experts with psychology and counselling background whose role is to provide a bridge to tackle issues of mental health.
“There are too many incidences of suicide and people living with depression. This is not just a suicide prevention task force but also an initiative to empower youths to build resilience by maintaining a healthy mental state - to know that it is okay to be sad, what can they do when faced with adversity, stress and rejection without hurting themselves,” said Ng.
Among the challenges that needs to be overcome in order to implement self-help include stigma, culture and a mindset admitting that the person has a mental health problem.
The Building Resilience Programme is designed by psychologists and backed by universities which sees volunteer psychologists delivering it to counsellors and youth volunteers.
By learning to better manage their mental state of well-being, these youths are able to empower and impart skills such as creativity in problem-solving; demonstrate empathy, compassion and kindness; and help navigate those in need to the relevant places and avenues where accessible and accurate help is provided accordingly.
All youths who have fully completed the two-day programme will be given a certificate of attendance and a collar pin.
Treatment for mental health issues
The second part is a gatekeeper training programme by clinical psychologists and psychiatrists aiming to train community leaders to identify warning signs of suicide.
Dr Amer Siddiq Amer Nordin, Associate Professor with the Department of Psychological Medicine, University Malaya lists the many places people with mental health issues can go to in order to seek help.
They include the Health Ministry’s Klinik Kesihatan or Family Medicine Specialist Clinic which will then provide a referral letter to receive treatment at the government hospital’s psychiatric clinic.
Next is the University Malaya Medical Centre’s psychiatric clinic which accepts walk-ins on Monday to Friday between 8am and 10pm.
“Having obtained a referral letter from Klinik Kesihatan or private clinic, patients can consult doctors at university hospitals at UKM, UPM, UITM, UIA and USM. Those seeking help can also walk-in to private clinics or hospitals,” says Dr Amer who is also a SJ Care Warriors Advisory Council member.
Rising need for integrated mental health eco-system
Malaysia Mental Health Association (MMHA) raised the red flag September last year,
and highlighted that over the year, there has been an increase of suicidal behavior among adolescents.
Recent events with a 16-year old girl who took an Instagram poll before taking the plunge from a three-storey shoplot in Sarawak have renewed the global concern for mental health.
In fact, the cost of healthcare for mental illnesses, according to Frost & Sullivan is set to rise to a whopping US$6 trillion in 2030 annually from $2.5 trillion in 2010.
The global treatment gap in 2004 for disorders such as depression and anxiety was more than 50% and more than half of these patients went untreated. The situation has not changed significantly in 2018.
Currently, mental health issues are addressed mainly at hospitals and also at the primary care level. Complementary community based mental health initiatives and advocacy need to be much more well-integrated into the mental health service eco-system.
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