Penang State Government takes lead in psychological first aid

The launch of the ‘Psychological First-Aid’ to train more Malaysians to help those adversely affected by the pandemic.

Online PR News – 19-August-2021 – Penang – The State Government is calling on all MPs and state assemblypersons in Penang to become adequately equipped in psychological first aid (PFA) to help deal with the emotional well-being of their constituents.

In making this appeal in conjunction with the virtual launch of the WOU-ICCHP Psychological First Aid Course today, State Executive Councillor for Tourism and Creative Economy, Yeoh Soon Hin, said that Penang is proud to take the lead on psychological first aid by getting all elected representatives involved in this project.

He highlighted that the threat of Covid-19 infection, along with limited physical contact and interaction, risk of unemployment, burnout from excessive work and conflicting demands, and the uncertainties in the various businesses have exposed the population to significant mental distress. “This warrants psychological intervention,” he pointed out.

He said the World Health Organisation recommends 'Psychological First Aid' as a useful technique that can help many people in times of crisis like natural disasters, violence, accidents, war and pandemics.

“I would like to encourage our friends from the healthcare system, fellow State Assemblymen and Members of Parliament to participate in this first aid course so as to help those in need deal with the stress,” emphasised Yeoh. He said that WOU and ICCHP are offering the course free to all MPs and State Assemblymen, and suggested they take advantage of this opportunity.

He also encouraged the private sector and community to participate in the project since mental health issues can affect people from all walks of life.

This 32-hour PFA course has been developed by the International College of Clinical Hypnotherapy Practitioners (ICCHP) in partnership with Wawasan Open University (WOU), Penang. It introduces participants to risk factors and warning signs of severe distress that can cause mental health problems, builds understanding of their impact, and provides an overview of appropriate responses.

“This First Aid course provides you with the knowledge, skills and confidence needed to support and assist someone who is experiencing a mental health crisis and connects them to the right support system. This initiative will be effective in reducing the number of suicide cases we presently encounter in Penang,” Yeoh explained.

He said to meet the increased demand for professional help, the public can also be trained to identify those that are severely distressed in their own community, workplace, and social and family circles, so as to assist them in receiving the required care.

The mental health crisis has reached worrying levels to overwhelm the healthcare system, and so “the state leadership is moving quickly to address mental health care as an integral aspect of our pandemic recovery response”.

Meanwhile WOU Chief Executive and Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Lily Chan remarked, “This course seeks to help promote a healthy workplace for all workers so that they can continue to function effectively. Having knowledge, skills and competency of psychological first aid, one can immediately recognise, identify, understand and respond to signs of distress among our colleagues and help make workplaces healthier and safer spaces for all.”

She added that “maintaining the mental well-being of workers can lead to good productivity and performance, and this benefits both the worker and the employer”.