Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of Ipoh Echo.
By Koon Yew Yin
About 15 years ago, my younger brother, a dentist, committed suicide due to bipolar disorder and depression. Everyone has mental struggles. Sometimes life can be very stressful but you must know how to cope with it. That is why I am writing this article.
The Perak Society for the Promotion of Mental Health was established in October 1967 as a pilot project for the rehabilitation of patients with mental illness. A Centre was set up at the Luther Clinic in Clarke Street, Ipoh, where a few patients from Hospital Bahagia were brought to, each day. Under the guidance of a trained social worker, they carried out occupational therapy work and cultural recreational activities.
The project set up by Tan Sri Dato’ Seri Dr M. Mahadevan (then Consultant Psychiatrist and later Director of Hospital Bahagia), was funded by the Lutheran Church of America, and managed by Rev. Donald R. Poole Jr, Dr Ute Volp, Dr Lee Kok Heng, and Miss Joy Selvanayagam. During the 40 years of this organisation, hundreds of women have received care and rehabilitation at this facility and have made tremendous progress over the years.
The Society was launched by the Rotary Club of Ipoh with eighty founder members, and the Centre is now known as Pusat Pemulihan Jiwa or Day Care Centre. Mr Frank Cowie was the Centre’s first President, followed by Mrs Koon Yew Yin in 1976, and Dato’ Dr M. Majumder in 1986. The Patron of the Society is DYMM Paduka Seri Sultan Azlan Shah.
The society is affiliated with the World Federation of Mental Health. A Drop-In Centre was set up in Ipoh to provide ex-patients a place outside their premises to interact and develop special skills.
Perak Mental Health Campaign
In 1994, the Society, Rotary Club of Greentown and Persatuan Kebajikan Pesakit-Pesakit Hospital Bahagia, launched the Perak Mental Health Campaign. This association has been actively promoting mental health through education, information and forums for the benefit of the general public and for students in schools in Perak.
Every two years, mental health conventions are held and these events are well attended by psychiatrists, medical students, nurses, members of the public, and caregivers from both Malaysia and abroad. The Perak Mental Health Campaign has embarked on a vigorous programme for a healthy mental lifestyle. It also hopes to eradicate the stigma attached to mental illness and create awareness through its campaigns.
Besides organising activities and promoting mental health awareness, the Society is also entrusted with the task of fundraising to execute these activities. Much of their effort and time are utilised in canvassing financial support from government and non-government organisations, as well as individuals for aid to continue with the various programmes and to build the Centre.
It would be of great assistance to the Society if more corporate bodies could render some financial aid and assistance to keep their project going. Various activities like Open Day Sales, Charity Food Fares and Sales of Handicraft, Ceramics & Orchids are carried out regularly to help in obtaining the much-needed funds for the Centre.
Dato’ Dr M. Majumder has been the president since 1986. She recently called me to tell me that the Center is desperately short of money. Only three patients out of 75 patients are paying RM1,300 per month. Almost all the parents of the patients are out of work due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
She reminded me that I helped build the current centre in Tambun, Perak in 1967. I have donated a fair sum to help keep them going. I hope you too, would donate some money to help the people who need it.
Contributions can be channeled to:
Perak Society for the Promotion of Mental Health