KUALA LUMPUR, July 24 — Feeling stressed and have no one to talk with? Now you can call Befrienders and not worry about chalking up a massive phone bill.
In cooperation with the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), eight telecommunications operators are waiving call charges to those who contact the Befrienders helpline as part of their assistance towards mental and emotional health.
The waiver is effective from August 1.
The participants are Celcom Axiata Berhad, Digi Telecommunications Sdn Bhd, Maxis Berhad, Telekom Malaysia Berhad, TIME dotcom Berhad, U Mobile Sdn Bhd, Webe Digital Sdn Bhd and YTL Communications Sdn Bhd.
MCMC chairman Al-Ishsal Ishak said the waiver echoes Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo’s recent call that no one should be excluded in Malaysia’s journey towards a digital shift.
“The announcement made is timely for those in need, distress, despair and having suicidal thoughts to seek assistance via the Befrienders helpline,” he said in a statement.
Al-Ishsal said he believes suicidal symptoms can be prevented and eradicated with collective efforts from various stakeholders, including the government and industry players.
“Suicidal symptoms are a tragedy in every society, regardless of social, moral and economic aspects. Among the key steps that need to be taken is to eliminate the stigma in the community against mental illness and suicidal symptoms.
“This can be done by enabling access to Befrienders, which is now free for those who need advice, counselling and emotional support. As we advance through digitalisation, a collaborative effort that focuses on ways to leverage social media and latest technology to identify those most at risk, can be explored,” he said.
According to the National Health and Morbidity Survey 2017 released last year, one out of five adolescents is depressed, two out of five are anxious, while 11.2 per cent have suicidal ideation and 10.1 per cent have attempted suicide.
Founded in 1970, Befrienders is a non-profit organisation that provides emotional support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to the distressed and the suicidal.
Anonymous callers can express their problems and dilemmas to the trained volunteers at Befrienders, with all conversations held as confidential.