Being based in Kuala Lumpur, we often encountered individuals and families who were part of the urban poor. Through our other services, we became increasingly aware of the lack of accessibility this population had to mental health care and how it was severely affecting their daily lives.
We explored communities close to us - residing in dense, overcrowded high-rise flats that were typically a type of low-cost public housing or known as Projek Perumahan Rakyat (PPR). We identified issues such as high levels of depression and anxiety, strained family relationships, lack of peer acceptance and more among the residents we met, particularly adolescents.
In light of these findings, we've decided to take a holistic approach to deal with the situation. We adapted the successful Strengthening Families Program(SFP) to become our K.A.M.I. Programme, i.e. Keluarga Akrab Mencapai Impian, which is our main program where our we take the initiative to approach PPRs to provide interventions and group support sessions.
Read more to find out.
What we do
Keluarga Akrab Mencapai Impian (KAMI)
A community development programme that aims to strengthen emotional resilience, build self-advocacy skills and develop healthy communication within families in underserved B40 and marginalised communities.
To build replicable intervention programmes that contribute to a healthier future for children and youths exposed to adversity - using a participatory and inclusive approach.
Create a working partnership with different stakeholders in supporting the holistic well-being and development of at-risk-youths (e.g. Ministries, schools, local councils, hospitals, social workers, mental health centres).
To champion the community mental health framework - i.e. to view mental health as more than just therapy focused but a core aspect of our lives that can be improved everyday through our communities and environments.
This programme caters to young people aged 12 - 19. Participants go through a series of 12 workshops that focus on building self-efficacy and resilience over a span of 3 - 4 months. Out of those workshops, several sessions are dedicated to a community service project dependent on the interest and goals of the participants.
This programme is a platform for parents to connect, share resources and ultimately form a support network. Sessions typically focus on themes around managing stress, communication and conflict resolution over a course of 4 - 5 sessions.
These sessions are typically run after the completion of a KAMI Juara and KAMI Sembang programme. KAMI Booster is a series of 2 - 3 workshops that requires participation from at least one youth and one parent from the same family. It focuses on applying the skills learned from previous KAMI sessions in terms of communication and managing conflict.
This programme takes an introductory approach to the content typically provided in the KAMI Juara programme. Projek Juara includes 3 - 5 workshops over 2 - 3 months for youths aged 12 - 17. This programme focuses a lot more on building effective working relationships with participants and easing them into the material.
This programme focuses on nurturing leadership skills in youths aged 13 - 17 over the course of 4 workshops. The content focuses on developing communication and decision making skills as well as setting SMART goals.
Community Mental Health Clinic
These clinics provide initial mental health consultations to the public and are typically run in PPR / B40 locations in conjunction with one of the KAMI programmes. Residents are invited to speak with our counsellors and psychologists individually where a brief assessment or referral will be done.
The Community team at Thrive Well runs stand-alone workshops of various lengths and in multiple languages (English, Bahasa Malaysia, Mandarin) to address the relationships between mental health and the following:
- physical health
- living and work environments
- socio-economic backgrounds
- childhood experiences
- violence and poverty
- identity and perspectives
Currently, there is still a lack of psychologists in Malaysia, with the current counsellor-to-individual ratio is at 1:52,000, with the recommended ratio around 1:5000. To tackle this, the Ministry of Health had developed the National Mental Healthcare Policy 1997to promote community mental health care, with one of the aims being to improve mental health services for populations at risk of developing psychosocial problems.
Our K.A.M.I. programs use a preventive approach through enhancing psychosocial support to increase well-being. The Strengthening Families Program(SFP), is an evidence-based program which is universally and culturally sensitive to multiethnic families with young adolescents living in urban and rural areas.
A core belief of this model is that ‘a family that eats together, stays together.’ We think that a family is always more than the sum of its members. By the end of the program, participants will have a deeper understanding of themselves and the unconditional love that their families provide.
The KAMI programme can be viewed in 3 phases:
The first phase, Basic, covers essential skills and knowledge of psychosocial support for individuals.
The second phase, Advanced, deepens the skills and brings in more elements of supporting others in the family/community.
Finally, the third Ambassador phase identifies a small group of individuals who will be equipped to be peer support ambassadors who can act as first responders to community mental health needs.
Long-term, we believe this task-shifting method is much more sustainable as they will be able to rely internally for basic mental health support and be more resilient as a whole.