MIASA’s mental health helpline available 24 hours

The MIASA-YSD crisis helpline service is reachable at 1-800-82-0066

by NURUL SUHAIDI / pic by AFP

THE Mental Illness Awareness and Support Association (MIASA) yesterday launched its new MIASA-YSD crisis helpline to further refine the mental health services in Malaysia.

Launched in conjunction with MIASA’s fourth anniversary, the crisis hotline is a joint effort with Yayasan Sime Darby (YSD) and Maxis Bhd to lessen the stigma around mental health and collectively help ease the burden of the healthcare system.

MIASA president and founder Anita Abu Bakar said during the Covid-19 pandemic, the association has seen and received a staggering number of calls from Malaysians directly asking for help, guidance, support and companionship with regard to their mental health issues.

The crisis has also led to an acceleration in awareness and lessened the stigma around mental health. Last year, Malaysia saw more priority given to, the mental health space such as the concern on the mental wellbeing of employees, students, children as well as the society at large.

“As we are migrating our service online, today we are launching the birth of telehealth, expanding the services that we are currently providing in hope that we will be able to reach and help more people,” Anita said.

The newly launched crisis hotline is available 24 hours, seven days a week and is available for anyone needing psychological help service on mental health catered by well-trained volunteers.

Officiating the service, Senator Datuk Ras Adiba Radzi said the programme is aligned with the vision to support and tackle challenges in raising awareness on mental health, and strengthen the individual human right especially among the disabled community.

“With this newly launched hotline crisis, those who are struggling and in need of psychological support can reach out to this hotline with the support from volunteers from various backgrounds, specialists and survivors that will be able to handle individuals with empathy.

“I express my heartiest congratulation and gratitude to everyone who has been involved in making this hotline a success. This is also a manifestation to strengthen the individual human right, especially for less fortunate groups.”

Meanwhile, YSD CEO Yatela Zainal Abidin said MIASA has done a highly commendable job and YSD is proud to have MIASA as its collaborative partner for a long-term programme in alleviating mental health programmes in the country.

“The effort is also aligned with our community and health pillar focused on supporting sustainable community-based programmes intended to help and make mental health support accessible to the masses,” she said.

Yatela added that the normalisation of seeking support and counselling for mental health issues must be instilled in everyone.

“We must talk about and address it the same as we would with any other health issue.”

Notably, MIASA has conducted 554 programmes and activities engaging with various movements, social non-governmental organisations and institutions with regard to mental health issues.

“During the pandemic alone, we have carried out 165 programmes, with the impact reaching 1.6 million people through telehealth and social media, which would not have been possible prior to the pandemic,” Anita said.

Moving forward, she said MIASA will continue to serve and strive better, focusing on the comprehensive and whole life approach, and inclusivity.

This is because not everyone who suffers needs an intensive medical intervention, and having the avenue for support sometimes is enough to help save a life.

“As of now, we have 100 well-trained volunteers who are empathetic and passionate to assist individuals in need.

“We are targeting to recruit 150 volunteers by the end of this year.”

The MIASA-YSD crisis helpline service is reachable at 1-800-82-0066.