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Sabah young are prone to depression
Published on: Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Kota Kinabalu: The young population in Sabah, particularly in Kota Kinabalu, have more tendency to be depressed because of the rapid development that comes with high expectations on them, according to Befrienders Malaysia Honorary Advisor Gangadara Vadivel Sinnadurai.

"I therefore feel that Befrienders is very much need in Sabah, because I see a very young population, and according to our findings given by our Ministry of Health, the young people are at very high risk to mental disorder and suicidal feelings.

"They have more tendency to be depressed because of studies, yes, particularly Kota Kinabalu, it is developing so fast, then globalisation, Information Technology, they are bombarded by so many things, and expectations are very high, so that is why they are under pressure.

"We know the government services are doing a very good job, but they can't cope, they need more support and this is where volunteers that have the passion to join in can contribute a lot," said the former Befrienders Kuala Lumpur Chairman.

Gangadara said this when met during the Befrienders Kota Kinabalu 10th anniversary held here recently.

"We want to reach out to young people, because according to the Ministry of Health's findings, the highest risk group now is aged 16 to 25, all young people, mental disorder as well as suicidal thoughts, so we want to reach out to this group.

"I think Befrienders Kota Kinabalu is doing very well, I see a bright future and I think the press can also play a big role in giving us publicity," he said.

"It was wonderful for me to be here for their 10th anniversary because having started it , to come back and see it functioning so successful, it is very fulfilling.

"I remember when they first made the approach I was the chairman for Befrienders Kuala Lumpur, the first centre set up in 1970, we saw many challenges, because the concept of befriending was not so well known in Sabah at that time.

"People were not so sure about counselling, and we saw that even for training purposes the logistic problems were there, fortunately my board in Kuala Lumpur agreed to help out and so I came a few times and was pleasantly surprise there was very good response, particularly from the ladies.

"Datin Seri Siti Rubiah and Aminah said yes they wanted to do it because my concern was if you start it you must be able to sustain, we saw many challenges, even to get the right volunteers, because Befriender as you have heard is not something you just join, it needs a commitment and you know people need your help, people who are in trouble so you must be there for them.

"Befrienders Kota Kinabalu have challenges in finding the right volunteers, many wanted but you know you must be able to have the skills to talk to people, understand their feelings, but they persevered, they were steadfast.

"In between I came here for training sessions, so my advantage was that I am also involved in teaching English, so I come to Kota Kinabalu occasionally to do teaching workshops, when I come here for my teaching assignments I make sure I link up with my befriender's member.

"Now I find they are actually ahead of some of our centres in peninsular in the sense that they are into WhatsApp Befriending, none of the centres in the Peninsula are into it, only now they are talking about it.

So I think the progress is very good and I give credit to people like Datin Seri Siti Rubiah Abd Samad, Aminah Dellah and the core group, many of them who I trained are still actively involved.

"There is so much more to do, what is happening in Kota Kinabalu, although they say they don't have many calls, they are doing a lot of outreach, that means going to the community, particularly family wellbeing, because we find that when it comes to mental health issues, it starts at the family.

"The capacity building, supports starts with the family, and I interact a lot with college students, so I find that college students who are having problems adapting mainly come from families that are not so close, those students who have very good family support, are doing well in college," he said. - Sherell Jeffrey

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