10,000 lay counsellors to be trained next year

Deputy Prime Minister Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail says lay counsellors are needed to tackle the increasingly worrying mental health problems in the country.

KUALA LUMPUR: The government aims to produce 10,000 lay counsellors next year to tackle the increasingly worrying mental health problems in the country, Deputy Prime Minister Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail said today.

Wan Azizah, who is also women, family and community development minister, said up to 2018, some 5,500 individuals were trained as lay counsellors through a programme under a voluntary concept.

“We will further strengthen this (lay counsellors) programme next year to multiply the existing number.

“Anyone who wants to be a lay counsellor will have to go through a screening test and go for a three-day course to get a qualification certificate,” she said after attending a women’s carnival and “Back to School” programme in Kampung Pandan Dalam here.

The counsellors’ programme, which began in 2015, is a collaboration between the Board of Counsellors of Malaysia and the Department of Women Development (JPW), which serves as a platform for advisory and guidance services to community members in need.

Meanwhile, Wan Azizah said 26,601 women had benefitted from the Women’s Anti-Crime programme, Campaign To Tackle Violence Against Women, Round Table On Elimination of Violence Against Women and legal clinic until November this year.

She said the programmes, which were implemented by JPW, were aimed at giving legal advice and information on women’s rights to those requiring them.

In addition, she said the government would continue to implement women’s empowerment programmes for them to effectively contribute to national development.

She said housewives and single mothers with low incomes will be guided by business operators or entrepreneurs who have made it in various fields.

Wan Azizah, who is Pandan MP, said the legal clinic, which was held during the “Santuni Rakyat” programme in Pandan Indah on Sept 29, would be continued next year.

She said the legal clinic allowed residents in the Pandan parliamentary constituency to obtain free advisory services from lawyers.