PINTAR-UTAR (PUMP 2.0) Mental Health Literacy Training

The Mental Health Literacy Training for Teachers and School Counsellors (PUMP 2.0), sponsored by Yayasan Hasanah, is a comprehensive programme to increase active involvement of mental health professionals in providing training for teachers and counsellors to further support students’ development. 200 participants (principals, senior assistants, teachers and counsellors) from schools within 10km radius of People’s Housing Project (Projek Perumahan Rakyat) in Penang, Selangor, Federal Territory and Johor attended the capacity building sessions conducted in the respective states in the first quarter of 2019. The focus for the Phase II sessions were on:

i. Anxiety Disorders and Hysterical Attacks,

ii. Self-care for Teachers and Counsellors,

iii. Self-Harm and Suicidal Behaviors, and;

iv. Neurodevelopmental Disorders in Adolescence.

As teachers and counselors work closely with students on a daily basis, it is important for them to recognize psychological challenges among students, and provide early intervention.

Statistics from the Institute for Public Health (2015) show that 11.4% of Malaysian children aged 10 to 15-year-old live with mental health problems. The figure is more staggering among children from a low socioeconomic background (< RM2000 household income monthly), with around 13.6% of them are experiencing some psychological distress. Although mental health conditions are likely to be treatable, it is unfortunate that professional services are often not accessible by students, mainly due to the lack of professional resources, awareness, and the prevalence of stigma. This further demonstrates the need to equip school teachers and counsellors with essential knowledge on:

  1. mental health issues,
  2. management strategies for at-risk students, and;
  3. referral for professional services.

“Saya mulai sedar tentang jenis masalah sebenar yang dihadapi oleh seseorang yang menunjukkan kelakuan luar biasa”, antara maklum balas yang diterima daripada peserta PUMP.

The immediate outputs from activities conducted have shown that there was statistically significant improvement in knowledge scores post training among the teachers and counselors; reduced median score on erroneous beliefs on mental health conditions, and the use of case studies and experiential learning activities during training deemed effective in imparting knowledge and in changing attitude. ‘The course gave me a lot new insights on symptoms of mental health, which augers well in my work as a school counselor’ – a common output shared by many participants.