PROVIDING emotional support to those in need gives para-counsellor Sally Yeoh joy and satisfaction.
Over the last four years, she has been lending an ear and giving hope to affected individuals through the D’Home Careline Service managed by D’Home Mental Health Association.
“I am honoured and blessed to be part of this programme.
“My task is to provide emotional support to callers who reach out to us for help and support over the phone. We refer to them as clients.
“For cases that involve more thorough counselling and therapy, I will refer to the psychologist and counsellors who also volunteer at the association.
“It brings me joy when I can help clients become better and provide them with positive input because, in turn, I am also learning from them,” she said.
D’Home Mental Health Association is a non-governmental organisation (NGO) established in Penang in 2004 and registered under the Societies Act 1966.
It is managed by an elected committee of professionals in the field and volunteers committed to the care and support of mental health in the community.
The panel of advisors includes psychiatrists and medical doctors from both public and private hospitals.
D’Home employs a psychologist as well as a licensed counsellor who provide counselling and therapy for clients from the community.
“We work together with Befrienders Penang to offer help to callers who are in need of a listening ear.
“Initially, the careline was set up to cater for clients in the morning as the Befrienders Penang hotline only starts at 3pm until midnight.
“So, we started operating from 10am to 2pm from Monday to Saturday. But because of the Covid-19 pandemic, we still take calls beyond those hours,” Yeoh said.
Currently, there are about nine volunteers who act as para-counsellors for the careline on a rotation basis.
Although located in Penang, the careline accepts callers from other states as well.
According to Yeoh, the “job” of the para-counsellors does not stop after they finish a phone call.
“Apart from providing clients emotional support, we also provide them with resources to seek professional help whenever needed.
“Sometimes, we check on them after their last call. Once we feel that the client is in safe hands, we stop following up on their cases,” she said.
Yeoh added that in urgent cases, clients would be referred to the hospital’s emergency department where they could seek treatment.
Association president Datuk Seri Lesli Lee said the pandemic had posed some challenges, whereby physical psychosocial activities organised for D’Home volunteers and clients were now being conducted virtually.
“For example, we have a Chat and Connect programme, yoga and games to enable clients and caregivers to de-stress.
“We try to give them positive impact, peer support and an avenue to express themselves.
“Some of the clients might have lost their social skills and by participating in these programmes, we try to reintegrate them back to society,” he said.
The association also has a Family Link Education Programme, a modular course for family members, caregivers and the public to discover topics such as “Understanding Mental Illness”, “Medication and Side Effects” as well as “Handling Crisis and Recovery.”
The programme is conducted up to four times a year by doctors, psychiatrists and trained facilitators.
There are also other activities such as online Zentangle sessions and mindfulness workshops for clients and caregivers.
D’Home is looking for volunteers to join them in their cause.
Training will be conducted after movement restrictions are lifted.
Interested individuals can register in advance by calling 04-2910 111.