Lack of clinical psychologists means long wait for patients

  • Nation
  • Friday, 17 May 2019

PETALING JAYA: There are not enough clinical psychologists to go around in Malaysia, a foundation noted.

Yayasan Hasanah senior vice-president and education head Dr Nur Anuar Abdul Muthalib (pic) said it can take up to a year before a patient can see a mental health professional.

“This is before they can even be diagnosed,” he said at the Hasanah Report 2018 media briefing recently.

“If someone – a child or a student – needs to see a mental health professional, the waiting period can be between eight months and a year.

“In Kuala Lumpur, it can easily be more than a year before professional help can be given to students who may be facing some serious issues,” he explained.

He added that secondary school students living in People’s Housing Projects are most prone to mental health issues.

He said this was discovered when the foundation worked with the Education Ministry to identify schools to be part of their programme for secondary school teachers and counsellors.

“This is why school counsellors need to be adequately trained to handle mental health cases,” Dr Nur Anuar said.

Yayasan Hasanah managing director Shahira Ahmed Bazari said the foundation trains secondary school counsellors and teachers to provide better mental health support to students.

“We support and retrain the school counsellors because they are seeing it (mental health issues in students) and they can’t cope when it comes to supporting the students,” she added.

According to Dr Nur Anuar, the next step is to upscale the prog­ramme to all 143 districts, though this is still at the discussion stage with the ministry.

Yayasan Hasanah is working with a clinical psychologist from Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman and Pintar Foundation for this prog­ramme.

In 2018, it worked with counsellors and teachers from 127 schools in Penang, Selangor, the Federal Territories and Johor.

Shahira said Yayasan Hasanah has supported programmes and projects to provide better access to quality education and training to teachers and students.

Since 2015, she added, there have been nearly 300,000 beneficiaries from 1,084 schools nationwide.

Overall, the foundation has provided grants to 51 civil partner organisations nationwide to deliver impactful programmes that have improved the lives of about 360,000 beneficiaries.

Yayasan Hasanah is under Kha­zanah Nasional and provides grants for initiatives and programmes to carry out social and community reforms for Malaysians.

They work with various stakeholders, including non-governmental organisations and the corporate sector, on five focus areas – education, community, arts and public spaces, environment and knowledge – to bring about sustainable change.

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