Relate Malaysia was founded by Dr. Chua Sook Ning, a clinical psychologist born and bred in DJ in 2017. She started the organisation when she realised how little mental health resources there were in Malaysia.
There was little information on the mental health status in Malaysia, and the few reports that are available were unpublished and not talked about. She also noticed that people were embarrassed and scared to talk about their mental health struggles. They were afraid of being stigmatised and discriminated against. Unfortunately, their fears were often proven to be true. People lost jobs and the support of friends and family members when they shared their mental health struggles.
The final push to start an organisation came when she was told that she should not run a public awareness campaign because people will become too aware of mental health and somehow that would worsen the mental health state in Malaysia. Dr. Chua realized that people are afraid of mental illness because of the lack of knowledge, and that the only way to change the status quo was to speak up. She said: "If we knew that 30% of people contracted the Zika virus in Malaysia, it would make the news. Even if there were not enough medication to treat the symptoms. But when 30% of people suffer a mental health condition, we are silent. How can that be?".
With that, she established Relate Therapy, which is now known as Relate Malaysia. As a Clinical Psychologist, her initial focus was on raising public awareness that psychotherapy is an effective evidence-based treatment for mental illness. But from that initial focus, Relate Malaysia expanded its mission to:
1. Promote the importance of mental health as part of well-being.
2. Promote prevention and early intervention programs
3. Develop effective, evidence based and accessible interventions.
4. Encourage the establishment of community support and services for all who need them.
5. Advocate for policies which protect patient rights and autonomy.
Relate Malaysia is now supported by all volunteer medical doctors, psychologists and psychiatrists.
Relate Malaysia uses the structured clinical interview for DSM-5 (SCID-5-CV) to ensure a proper systematic evaluation of mental health conditions. This is the gold standard in psychiatric diagnosis and is used in clinical and research settings for accurate diagnosis of primary and comorbid disorders. Psychotherapy is one of the most effective treatments for mental health conditions. On average, a person receiving psychotherapy is likely to improve more than 79% of those who do not. Psychotherapy uses clinical methods that are based on established psychological principles and research to help you make changes in your life. You work together with a therapist to identify the root causes of the problems and change the thought and behavior patterns that stop you from healthy living and feeling your best.