Meeting the mental health and psychological needs of a changing society

Associate Professor Shamsul Haque - Head of Discipline (Psychology)
Associate Professor Shamsul Haque - Head of Discipline (Psychology)

As global interactions and performances grow increasingly efficient, the demands on society have also risen in recent years. The need to do more, and to do it faster and better, has left more people unable to cope with expectations, and reeling from emotional and psychological difficulties.

“The fabric of society is changing, and we see that a lot of people face difficulties in their living, professional and social life,” said Associate Professor Shamsul Haque, Head of Discipline (Psychology) with the Jeffrey Cheah School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Monash University Malaysia.

“We can see that the demand for psychological services is increasing, because as people face more difficulties, they are unable to cope and need professional help.”

In response to this growing need, and an increasing awareness of the importance of psychological services, the School will be launching an honours degree in psychology in February 2016.

“We have a bachelor of psychological science and business programme, a combined degree, but we’ve found that there is a huge demand for single-honours degree in psychology,” said Prof Shamsul.

True to its creed of pushing the envelope in education, the new honours degree will be especially unique in that the program is fully accredited by the Australian Psychology Accreditation Council, and approved by the Psychology Board of Australia.

“No other program in Malaysia offers this accreditation, which obviously opens up a lot more opportunities for graduates,” said Prof Shamsul.

“This accreditation effectively means that graduates are eligible to register with the board upon their graduation with a provisional registration, and practice as assistants to a psychologist. After completing two years of training at the postgraduate level, they will then be accepted as a full member of the board,” he said.

Prof Shamsul said society was acknowledging that a deeper understanding of human behaviour and basic cognitive processes was crucial in most aspects of work life, and spans across the different industries.

“Psychology graduates with further studies at the postgraduate level can choose to practice as clinical psychologists, counsellors or maybe choose to specialise in various areas like neuropsychology among others. We’ve also had graduates who have come out to work in the corporate world in an array of industries.”

Apart from the honours psychology program, the school is also exploring the opportunity to launch a Masters of counselling, targeted for introduction in February 2015.

“Currently we don’t have any Masters level program at this campus, and we found that many of our current students who are interested in studying farther at the post grad level are lost. There are not many Malaysian universities offering Masters of Counselling,” said Prof Shamsul.

While a psychology degree would equip graduates with the basic concepts of their field of study, the skills of counselling are usually imparted and learnt at the Masters level.

“There is a huge demand for counsellors in society today, and many of our students have expressed great interest in this field,” said Prof Shamsul.

He noted that an increasing number of children were in need of emotional support and care, and showing signs of growing up with many forms of mental deprivation.

“With changes in society, such as the increasing rate of divorces, separations, or even when both parents have to work and children are left to minders, we’re seeing that more children are not getting proper emotional support and care. These things need to be addressed by counsellors,” he said.

He encouraged students who were keen to know more about both the honours psychology programme and masters of counselling to contact the school for more details.

For more information on psychology courses offered at Monash University Malaysia’s Jeffrey Cheah School of Medicine and Health Sciences, speak to our counsellors at +60 3 5514 6000 / +60 13 200 5572, or visit http://www.med.monash.edu.my/courses/undergraduate/bachelor-psychological-science-business.