Helping individuals in distress

Clinical School Johor Bahru collaborates with Mental Health Association of Johor and Raffles University Iskandar to spearhead mental health training in the region.

The ‘Helping Individuals in Distress’ Workshop was organised on 8 Oct 2016 by the Jeffrey Cheah School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Clinical School Johor Bahru, Monash University Malaysia, in collaboration with the Mental Health Association of Johor and Raffles University Iskandar. The workshop was organised to spearhead mental health training in the region.

The objectives of the workshop included promoting happiness, awareness of distress signs and inculcating basic helping skills among professionals in Johor, who work closely with adolescents and young adults -  the group with the highest rate of attempted suicide  in Malaysia.

A total of 47 participants attended the workshop, including counsellors, student service coordinators, admin officers, lecturers, education consultants, CEOs, student leaders, medical students as well as volunteers from Befrienders Johor Bahru.

“Stress is only bad when people perceive it as bad,” shared  Paul Jambunathan, a consultant clinical psychologist and senior lecturer at Monash University Malaysia during his talk on ‘Mental Hygiene and Psychological Wellbeing among Students’. He addressed the impact of perception on stress, emphasising the importance of spirituality, work and leisure, friendship, love and self-direction in promoting wellness. Na Mui Gee, a senior counsellor at Monash University Malaysia and an Orygen Research Centre accredited Mental First Aid instructor, helped participants review their existing beliefs regarding mental illness during her session on ‘Dealing with Self-Harming Behaviours and Suicide’. She further iterated that people who self-injure are not necessarily attention seekers, as self-injury can be a behavioural symptom of a mental illness or negative coping skills.

The ARSR (Assess, Recognise, Support and Refer) model on basic skills of helping was introduced by Low Mi Yen, a consultant clinical psychologist. In her session, she incorporated concepts of mindful self-compassion and practical skills in assessing and communicating with individuals in distress. The workshop ended with a forum moderated by Carole Chung, a senior counsellor at Monash, with panel speakers Paul Jambunathan, Low Mi Yen, Dr Samuel Chan, a lecturer from Raffles University Iskandar, and Sam Tee, President of Befrienders Johor Bahru.