‘Rakan Muda Comfort Room’ programme to offer youth mental health support

Dr Ng (left), Rentap (middle), and Lamat (right) during a press conference at the Kompleks Belia Dan Sukan Negeri Sarawak here today (June 23, 2022).

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By Ashley Sim

KUCHING, June 23: The ‘Rakan Muda Comfort Room’ programme aims to provide mental health support to youths, as cases of depression have become increasingly alarming due to the Covid-19 pandemic and other factors, says Deputy Minister for Youth, Sports, and Entrepreneur Development (Youth and Sports Development) Dato Gerald Rentap Jabu.

Rentap said this today during a press conference after officiating at the launch of the programme at the Kompleks Belia Dan Sukan Negeri Sarawak here.

“Sarawak is one of the six states in Malaysia chosen to implement this programme.

“The pressure now is different than it was years ago, which I believe is due to the Covid-19 pandemic; the Movement Control Order (MCO) as the youths are stuck at home, and a variety of other factors.

“We can also observe, through the rise in cases of depression, that some youths are unable to engage in online learning, causing them to feel frustrated,” he said.

Rentap, who is also Layar assemblyman, went on to say that the Sarawak Youth and Sports Department (JBSNS) in collaboration with the Mental Health Association of Sarawak (MHAS), the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Entrepreneur Development Sarawak (MYSED), and the Institusi Pengajian Tinggi Awam (IPTA)/Institusi Pengajian Tinggi Swasta (IPTS) hopes that the implementation of the programme will have a positive impact on youth development, particularly in relation to mental health issues.

“The programme is physically carried out in a special room/space known as the Rakan Muda Comfort Room.

“Implementation is done by zone, namely Sabah, Sarawak, Kedah (northern zone), Selangor (central zone), Kelantan (eastern zone), and Perak (western zone).

“This special room/space will be located on the premises of the Youth and Sports Department (JBS) in all six of the aforementioned states.”

It also stated that the ‘Mental Health Counselling Programme’ will be held in collaboration with mental health experts identified by the State JBS.

“Those who wish to register for the programme can do so via an online registration form, and those who sign up will be contacted for a counselling appointment.

“First-time appointments will be held online for the purpose of mental health screening; once the results are obtained, the next appointment will be scheduled, and the method of implementation, whether online or physically, will be determined,” the press release clarified.

“Counselling sessions will be held twice a month for six months, with each session lasting four to six hours.

“The total number of participants is expected to be around 200 for each zone, consisting of youth/teenagers aged 15 to 25.

“The implementation of this programme is also seen as providing moral support to the Ministry of Health (MOH) Malaysia in order to achieve the aspirations of the Nine (9) National Mental Health Policy to develop a healthy national community,” the press release mentioned.

Also present during the press conference were JBSNS director Lamat Nyalau and Sarawak General Hospital (HUS) psychiatrist and MHAS vice president Dr Ng Boon Seng. — DayakDaily