Befrienders Should Be Funded By The Govt, Says MP

PETALING JAYA: Emotional support group Befrienders should be funded by the government as more and more people are in need of counselling now, says a former deputy minister.

Hannah Yeoh, who was deputy women, family and community development minister in the Pakatan Harapan government, said almost all news organisations urge people suffering from mental health issues to call Befrienders and the publicity has led to more calls.

“I don’t think any NGO can carry this heavy load of counselling support over the phone. It is too heavy for them,” she said, adding that the NGO also needed financial aid.

She was speaking during an online talk titled Destigmatising Suicide:The role of the Media, organised by the Centre for Independent Journalism.

The Segambut MP said Befrienders had received 30% more calls after banners advertising their phone numbers were put up in Subang Jaya township. This was before the GE14 when she was Subang Jaya state assemblyman.

However, with more publicity given to Befrienders now, she said the NGO was receiving even more calls. She said Befrienders also needed more Tamil speaking volunteers.

Yeoh also hoped the higher education ministry would assist by allowing psychology students to hear out those in need, as mental health becomes a major issue.

From 2015 to 2019, she added that Talian Kasih, which was under her former ministry, had received 264 calls from people suffering from depression due to loneliness. Of that, 56% were children who felt lonely during school holidays.

She urged the National Security Council (MKN) to send free text alerts to inform the people of counselling services available.

She said that when she was still deputy minister, statistics showed that suicide cases from public housing were increasing. Others were from children whose parents were planning to divorce.

Sabah, she said, also had the highest number of suicide cases, especially among stateless children.

“Not being able to go to college, get proper registration for marriage and being unable to open bank accounts – these change a view of an individual towards life,” she said.

Source : https://www.msn.com/en-my/news/national/befrienders-should-be-funded-by-the-govt-says-mp/ar-AAPNwaz

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