“Befrienders act as an outlet for stress. We take calls from people with suicidal thoughts. What we do is we’ll try to talk them out of it,” said Michelle Lou, the vice chairperson for Befrienders.
Some of them are so stricken with panic they are incapable of making decisions. They get too frightened and paranoid to ask for help.
She opined, “My view of people refusing to seek help is that they fear stigma and are ashamed of being judged. They have to understand that it’s OK not to be OK.”
“The callers would usually display symptoms and we’d have to identify the degree of their emotional stability. We don’t tell them what to do, instead, we listen to what they have to say and provide them the emotional support they need while keeping confidentiality,” she remarked.
According to the committee member of publicity, Jerry Ng, the volunteers have to be patient in order to pinpoint the underlying issues so that they can tackle the problem and be of better help to the person. “We deal with their emotions and worries,” he stressed.
Befrienders Ipoh was established in 1976 with one purpose: to give succour and emotional support to those in need.
Besides, the volunteers give educational talks in schools, colleges as well as corporate companies. Some topic highlights are stress management, how to cope with anxiety and relieve stress.
“Over the past 10 years, we have seen an increasing trend of people calling in to get things off their chest. However, there are still many who would hold in their emotions as confiding them is perceived as an act of weakness, an all too common misconception,” Jerry asserted.
For individuals who prefer to write, they also have an email befriending, firstname.lastname@example.org
To anyone who would like to be part of Befrienders, they are opening a training class for new volunteers! It is a two-day training on August 22 and 23. The training will be held at No. 8, Jalan Sybil Kartigasu, Fair Park, 31400 Ipoh from 9am till 5pm. For enquiries, please call Michelle at 012-5121897.