Group sets up association to provide mental healthcare initiatives for B40, M40 community

Dr Mohanraj (seventh from left) and Gunaraj (third from right) during the launch of the Selangor Mental Health Association.

KLANG: A group of mental health advocates have set up the Selangor Mental Health Association (SMHA) due to the rising need for mental healthcare advocacy in the state, says its president Datuk Dr Andrew Mohanraj.

The consultant psychiatrist said SMHA has plans to work amongst the B40 and M40 community in the state.

“High income earners easily have access to private mental health support providers but those in the lower income group do not have access to such care due to their struggles in making ends meet,’’ said Dr Mohanraj, who is also the Malaysian Mental Health Association president.

Without any help to handle their mental health issues, those in the vulnerable groups may be prone to releasing their frustration through domestic violence, child abuse, truancy and other social misconduct, he added.

Many of them, said Dr Mohanraj, may not even be aware that the underlying reason for their behaviour could be mental health issues.

“Often, it is the women who need to bear the burden of coping with the situation.”

SMHA was officially launched in May this year at a People's Housing Project (PPR) site in Serendah as an indication of the organisation’s commitment towards initiating mental healthcare initiatives amongst low-and medium-income communities.

The event was kickstarted by Gunaraj George, who is community affairs special officer to Selangor Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Amirudin Shari.

Dr Mohanraj said SMHA also took cognisance of Selangor Ruler Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah’s call for the general public to be more sensitive towards those suffering from mental health issues.

The Ruler had made the call in his Royal Address at the launch of the Tanjong Karang Hospital in February this year.

Sultan Sharafuddin had also said those suffering from mental health problems must receive appropriate treatment just like those suffering from physical ailments.

According to Dr Mohamraj, the state government’s Selangor Sehat Psychiatric Treatment Subsidy programme has also motivated SMHA to reach for the stars in terms of crafting and making available mental health initiatives for the masses.

“We are thankful to the Selangor state government for its initiatives to narrow the treatment gap in provision of mental health services for Selangorians.

“The support for the B40 category is particularly welcome since this group is especially vulnerable to increased stress, depression and anxiety,’’ said Dr Mohanraj.

The Selangor government announced last year that it will subsidise the first two weeks of psychiatric treatment for the state’s residents under the programme.

Amirudin had said in a social media post that RM222,600 was allocated for the programme to subsidise the cost of screening, psychiatric consultation, basic psychotherapy treatment, and medication for the lower income group.

“The SMHA is willing to work hand in hand with the state government to promote mental health awareness and provide subsidised services to Selangorians in the lower socio-economic group,’’ said Dr Mohanraj.

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