‘Homeless with mental health issues get treatment before joining transit centre’

Fatimah (left) observing two homeless women weaving baskets at TTG Sibu.

A JOINT operation by authorities to rescue the homeless in Sibu resulted in the team discovering 10 individuals with mental health issues.

Sarawak Women, Family and Community Well-being Minister Datuk Seri Fatimah Abdullah said they were sleeping along the five-foot way of shophouses and would be referred to the psychiatric ward of Sibu Hospital for medical observation.

“We will send them to the psychiatric ward of Sibu Hospital until their condition is stable and can return to the Temporary Transit Centre for the Homeless (TTG),” she said.

Fatimah said the pilot project to save the homeless with the assistance of Sibu Hospital and TTG Sibu was a short-term approach to reduce the number of mentally unsound homeless folk in public places.

“The TTG is not a psychiatric nursing home based on the interpretation in the Mental Health Act,” she said when visiting the homeless folk at TTG Sibu.

In line with this, her ministry is requesting that the Federal Government through the Health Ministry establish a Psychiatric Care Centre in Sarawak and build a new self-development centre in the state’s northern region.

Fatimah said 237 homeless folk comprising 194 men and 43 women were recorded in 2020 in the state by Sarawak Social Development Ministry and state Welfare Department.

“In 2021, there were 158 people (148 men and 10 women).

“We found that among the homeless for 2020 and 2021, 38% of them had mental health issues,” she said.

On the setting up of TTG Sibu, which is the first in Sarawak, she said it currently had 14 homeless persons.

“There were originally 40 of them, comprising 29 men and 11 women from December last year up to July 21 this year, but we have discharged 26 persons,” she said.

She added that TTGs would be set up in Kuching, Miri and Bintulu.

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