State and NGOs launch support system for those with mental health issues

Chow (centre) launching the ‘Someone for each one’ programme. With him are Tan (white shirt), Magarita (in purple) and social development committee chairman Chong Eng (black floral dress).

PENANG with the help of several NGOs has launched a support system for people battling with mental health issues.

The programme called ‘Someone for each one’ (Sfeo) is a collaboration with Penang Association of Counselling and Psychology (PACP) and Pertubuhan Wanita Mutiara (PWM).

PACP president A.E. Magarita Malayapillay said the programme would empower and support individuals and families to deal with mental health problems.

“We will work closely with the community by providing avenues for those who need support to connect with volunteers who wish to help, ” said Magarita.

She was speaking during the launching of Sfeo by Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow at Pusat Harmoni in Scotland Road.

“The trained volunteers will offer support with the help of mental health professionals and NGOs in the field.”

Magarita said the training of volunteers included an understanding of anxiety and depression, basic counselling skills, gatekeeper training for suicide prevention and understanding the development of resilience.

“It also includes handling challenges in seeking and following through with treatment and paying home visits.

“We wish to support individuals and families facing health and economic challenges that can cause them to spiral into hopelessness and helplessness.”

PWM president Tan Lean Kee said the prevalence of mental issues in society had been steadily increasing over the last 10 years, affecting the young and old at home, at schools and colleges and also in the workforce.

“We are especially concerned with young lives cut short.

“Many youths are struggling with Internet addiction and substance abuse.

“Women living in fear also need help along with cancer patients who feel anxious and devoid of hope plus parents and caregivers handling special needs children.

“PWM therefore decided to approach like-minded individuals and trained professionals in mental health to work together to form a support system for people battling with mental health issues.

“Thus on World Mental Health Day, I call upon individuals who are passionate to volunteer for this programme.

“They can do something life-affirming to support those who are struggling.”

Chow said mental health issues were alarming and serious.

He pointed out that the 2017 National Health and Morbidity Survey revealed that 29% of Malaysians suffer from depression and anxiety disorders compared with just 12% in 2011.

“Now the Covid-19 pandemic is affecting our lives and livelihoods, ” he said.

“It is hardly surprising that the number of people suffering from anxiety and depression has increased.

“Cancer support will be another area of service.

“Volunteers from Sfeo will listen and provide a comforting shoulder for those recuperating and healing.

“Emotional well-being is an issue that many of us take for granted, ” added Chow.

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