Sabah group launches nation’s first dedicated youth careline

Chin Poh Choo (left), the executive director of Good Shepherd Services with Sabah Youth and Sports Minister Phoong Jin Zhe at the launch of the Kawan Bah careline in Kota Kinabalu today.

KOTA KINABALU: A youth centre in Sabah has come up with what is believed to be the country’s first careline dedicated to the youth following the profound effects of Covid-19 and the ensuing movement control order (MCO).

The YouthPrep Centre (YPC) Alamesra today launched the “Kawan Bah” careline, which is to help youths cope with personal issues amid the changing social environment following the pandemic.

Young people can access the seven-day 24-hour service by calling or using WhatsApp through +6012 775 3020.

They can speak about anything from their anxieties to daily hardships, and even get career guidance tips.

“We are the first such careline I think in Malaysia specifically for the youth,” said Chin Poh Choo, the executive director of Good Shepherd Services, the social service group that operates YPC.

Sabah Youth and Sports Minister Phoong Jin Zhe (left, dark jacket) interacting with youths at the YouthPrep Centre in Kota Kinabalu today.

Chin said the idea came about after YPC reached out to about 200 students who were stranded in the capital during the MCO.

“They couldn’t go back to their villages and nobody expected the MCO to be extended for such a long period. They had no cash, were running out of food, had no monetary support from parents and no friends to hang out with. Basically, they were unprepared for the MCO.

“So we came in for them and ordered food supplies and also did a cluster counselling support where we met online just so they would know they were not alone. This made them feel supported and they requested for the check-in sessions to go on.

“So the Kawan Bah careline is an extension of the experience we had during the MCO,” she said.

Sabah Youth and Sports Minister Phoong Jin Zhe was on hand to officiate at the launching of the service at YPC’s office in Alamesra, Likas, here.

Elaborating on the careline, Chin said: “Youth are often confronted with physical, social and emotional challenges that affect their mental health and overall well-being.

“Yet, specific support for youths in the area of mental health and well-being tend to be overlooked, neglected, under-served or often unspoken.

“Mental health is always seen as negative. What comes to mind is ‘something must be wrong with you’.

“However, sometimes it could just be people wanting an opinion or to have an ear to listen to what’s on their mind.”

She said the centre had a licensed counsellor.

In commending YPC for its efforts, Phoong said the Kawan Bah careline would be vital in looking after the mental health of the younger generation, particularly those in Sabah.

“I hope other youth organisations can follow suit,” he said, adding the ministry would channel funds to help groups like the YPC involved in such efforts.

He added that his ministry was working on establishing the Sabah Youth Aspiration Centre to cater to youth as there was no such government-run centre yet in the state.

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