Community mental health is preserved through the people and spaces around us everyday. It is what we see in homes, schools, outdoors and community spaces.
Upon learning that many of our B40 therapy clients struggled to access consistent, quality support - we decided to bring mental healthcare to them, to meet them where they are.
We explored communities closest to us residing in low-cost public housing (Projek Perumahan Rakyat or PPR). To date, we have identified issues such as high levels of depression and anxiety, strained family relationships, low self-esteem, difficulty communicating and managing certain emotions and more - among the residents we met, particularly adolescents.
To address this, we sought to make the immediate family and surrounding community the resource themselves. Adapted from the successful Strengthening Families Program (SFP), we designed community development programs to empower and train families and members of the community to be the first point of contact for mental health resources.
With great support from partners such as Yayasan Hasanah, Mah Sing Foundation, CIMB Islamic, Teach for Malaysia, Think City and many more – we hope to continue to build capacity in parents, community leaders and young people themselves so they are better equipped to lift themselves up in times of need.
What we do
What is K.A.M.I.?
Keluarga Akrab Mencapai Impian (KAMI) is 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.
It aims to:
1. Build replicable intervention programmes that better support young people exposed to adversity through participatory and inclusive approaches
2. Create working partnerships across different sectors, stakeholders and primary care providers in supporting the holistic well-being and development of at-risk-youths.
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.
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.
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 developed the National Mental Healthcare Policy 1997 to promote community mental health care, with one of the aims being to improve mental health services for populations at risk of developing psychosocial problems.
Mental health services are still widely perceived as the traditional one-on-one therapy session. Through K.A.M.I., we aim to demonstrate that caring for our mental health takes place in the daily collective efforts from ourselves and the people and spaces around us.
Our K.A.M.I. program seeks to build the capacity of the immediate community and the primary care providers in terms of identifying early warning signs of deteriorating mental health, connecting those in need to available professional resources and raising awareness about the importance of mental health on a daily basis.
Adapted from the Strengthening Families Program (SFP) to a Malaysian context - the K.A.M.I. approach of supporting the family unit together to build therapeutic relationships has had positive results. SFP is an evidence-based program that is universally and culturally sensitive to multiethnic families with young adolescents living in urban and rural areas.
Long-term, we believe that the K.A.M.I project can sustainably develop resilient communities that are able to independently provide basic mental health support efficiently and cost-effectively.