Where to get help for depression and other mental health issues in Malaysia


By Ronn Tan

Where to get help for depression and other mental health issues in Malaysia

Happiness is subjective and it’s true; everyone wants to be happy, but the truth is that no one can be happy all the time. And in those moments, some might feel obligated to appear fine even when they’re not. You know that feeling? For some people, those are just down days. For others, it’s a constant battle on most days. Mental health, people, is a real, serious matter. Thankfully, Malaysia is beginning to take mental health issues more seriously, and understand that these struggles aren’t a sign of weakness, but instead a neccessary topic to be talked about openly in order to create awareness.

Recently, the Malaysian Mental Health Association (MMHA) raised the red flag, highlighting that there has been an increase of suicidal behaviour among adolescents in Malaysia over the past year. This is why the infographic below matters tremendously. If you, or someone you know, are seeking help but don’t know where to go—or what to do—this infographic highlights the general procedures and places you can go in Malaysia.

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But help doesn’t stop just there. YB Michelle Ng, Subang Jaya Assemblywoman, has started a Subang Jaya-based initiative called SJ Care Warriors, which came about at a funeral of a girl who took her own life. Ng spoke to the parents of the child who said something that would become the catalyst to start the programme—the parents didn’t know what to do. And so, SJ Care Warriors was created to empower the community to self-help and help others; as well as to build resilience through a community-based wellness approach.

Supported by a team of medical and non-medical volunteers, SJ Care Warriors uses a two-prong approach. Firstly, a team of clinical psychologists and psychiatrists is to provide gatekeeper training on suicide prevention. Secondly, a team of experts with psychology and counselling background, on the other hand, is to build a bridge to tackle the issues of mental health. The initiative is for all Malaysians, but particularly the youth. According to Ng, the objective of the initiative is to become a suicide prevention task force, as well as to empower the younger generation to build a stronger resilience for their mental health. She continued that it is important for the youth to understand that there is no abnormality in being sad and/or depressed.

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Of course, it’s not easy. Unfortunately for the victims who are suffering from mental health issues, especially in Malaysia, there are existing challenges that need to be first overcome before self-help can be implemented. Challenges such as stigma, culture and the fear of admitting the existence of a mental health problem. With that, psychologists have designed the Building Resilience Program. Backed by universities, this programme is delivered by volunteer psychologists to counsellors and youth volunteers; and a few crucial results are expected from this. One, the youth will be able to empower and impart skills such as creativity in problem-solving. Two, they should also be able to possess the ability to express empathy, compassion and kindness. Last but not least, the youth will learn to help manoeuvre those in need to the relevant places and outlets where accessible and thus, solid help will be implemented accordingly.

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Apart from the programme, clinical psychologists and psychiatrists will provide gatekeeper training to community leaders so that they’ll be able to identify warning signs of suicide. This will empower citizens and the community as well as to encourage engagement.

SJ Care Warriors and YB Michelle Ng are important examples of the best way forward if the country is serious about combatting the issues of mental health. The need for a ripple effect is stronger than ever. Everyone has to work together and spread guidance so that more Malaysians know what to do—be it for themselves or for those in need. There is hope, no doubt about that. After all, Malaysia boleh.

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