Category Archives: Basic & General

Support Groups in KL / Klang

I’ve been asked about support groups quite a few times and been thinking how I can start this. It’s definitely something very common in western countries, I’m not sure how it will work here in Malaysia. Now I’m proposing the idea here, and for anyone who reads this and is interested in any of the support groups, please get in touch, let me know what you think and how we can start this and get it going!

Support groups for:

  1. Depression or mood related problems
  2. OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder)
  3. Anxiety or stress related problems
  4. Schizophrenia and psychotic related disorders
  5. Carers (immediate family etc)

What is it? How does it go? What do we do?

  1. Meet monthly or every fortnightly for an hour or so
  2. Getting to know people who share the same or similar problems
  3. Casual discussion following a theme that we set (led by me)
  4. Sharing, supporting and learning among/from each other


  1. English
  2. Mandarin / Cantonese


  1. Klinik Pakar Au Yong, Jln Pudu, KL
  2. Manipal Hospitals Klang
  3. Some cafes in Klang Valley?


  1. Patient’s willingness! (is not forced by others to join us; willingly attend, participate, share and listen to others)
  2. At least 3 to form a group
  3. To treat others with respect and maintain confidentiality
  4. To share the cost of a small administrations/materials/venue fees (if any)

These are just some ideas for now, if you have some ideas or are interested, please do leave your contacts (email or contact numbers) below or get in touch by emailing or calling/whatsapp 017-2757813

Sleep and Dreams

  • All people dream when they sleep, including people who think they don’t (more…).
  • According to sleep and dream expert Rubin Naiman, good dreaming contributes to our psychological well-being by
    • supporting healthy memory
    • consolidating memories
    • retaining information
    • warding off depression
    • expanding our ordinary limited consciousness into broader, spiritual real
  • Sleep generally occurs in 90-minute phases repeated throughout the night. Each phase moves from non-REM sleep to REM sleep. At the beginning of the sleep cycle, the REM phase lasts only a few minutes, but in the last phase before awakening, the REM phase can last  up to 40 minutes, and these late-stage dreams often stay in our memories as we awaken.
  • Dreams are largely confined to the REM, or rapid eye movement, phase of sleep.  In REM sleep, we are also in a type of paralysis, and if this paralysis doesn’t occur for whatever reason, a deadly acting out of our dreams can take place.
  • The longer your REM cycle, the more intense your dreams (more…)
  • When someone is sleep deprived we see greater sleep intensity, meaning greater brain activity during sleep; dreaming is definitely increased and likely more vivid (Mark Mahowald, director of the Minnesota Regional Sleep Disorders Center in Minneapolis.)
  • It has been observed that dream deprivation causes effects such as:
    • waking dreams (visual and auditory hallucinations)
    • interference with memory and learning
    • a loosening of associations
    • impaired waking ability to do tasks requiring focused attention
    • difficulty maintaining a straight line of thought
    • creating irritability and suspiciousness.
  • High dream recallers are more reactive to environmental stimuli [during sleep], awaken more during sleep, and thus better encode dreams in memory than low dream recallers. (more…)
  • Whatever people are exposed to during the daytime will have an impact on their dreaming at night.
  • You can have a negative impact on your dreams if you’re surrounded or getting exposed to negative things throughout the day. But, on the flip side, you can also have a positive impact on your dreams if the last things that you’re thinking about are positive things. (Dr. Shalini Paruthi)
  • How to have better dreams: While we can’t have 100 percent control over our dreams, there are things we can do to influence them in a positive direction, experts say. Among them:
    • exposure to pleasant smells and sounds while we’re sleeping
    • avoiding spicy foods
    • not smoking
    • eating healthy and exercising regularly
    • improving our daytime thought patterns
    • In simplistic terms, if you want good dreams, sleep well and think happy thoughts. (Dr. Shalini Paruthi)
  • In Dr. Naiman’s view, your complaint of feeling tired the day after dreams disturb your sleep is not usually the result of dreaming, per se, but of attempting to deny, resist or fight the dreams. It is this struggle that can leave you exhausted. He notes that occasional bad dreams and even nightmares are a normal part of one’s dream life, also to keep in mind that even a negative dream can have a positive effect on one’s life.



  • According to Antrobus, factors that can lead to poor sleep include:
    • consuming alcohol before bed
    • experiencing stress and having a disturbing day
    • keeping electronics like cell phones, televisions or computers in the bedroom
    • eating, exercising or consuming caffeine too late
    • having an uncomfortable bed or sleeping environment
    • keeping an inconsistent sleep schedule.
  • Dr Shalini Paruthi’s advice on getting a good sleep:
    • sleeping in a room that’s dark, quiet and cool (18 to 22 celcius degree)
    • taking a bath and reading a book before bed
    • practicing relaxation exercises
    • avoiding stressful or stimulating activities before sleep
    • napping early in the day (or not at all)
    • exercising earlier in the day
    • avoiding alcohol, sugar and large meals before sleep
    • maintaining a regular sleep schedule
    • going to bed when we’re tired.


Seeking mental health help leaving permanent record?

This thing has been ongoing from day one I started my job, it is usually with parents who are a bit concerned taking their children to get professional mental health care services, whether it is psychiatric, psychology, counselling services.

Their main concern is that this will leave permanent record/impact on the patient, affecting his/her future education and career opportunities and developments. So I have met parents who wouldn’t take their child to see us, or parents who argue over it, or parents who wouldn’t register their child’s name in our system and want us to use and call their (parents’) name instead.

I’m not sure what happens in government hospitals. But as far as I’m aware, all of the information we hold here in our systems is private and confidential. Unless we have the consent of the patient (or of the guardian for children or those that are less capable), or it is required by laws, we can never disclose anything to anyone, no matter if it’s their spouse, parent, supervisor from workplace or faculty head from college. I’d always add that if the patient has a very high risk of harming the self or others, we might need to do something about it (it’s often contacting the next of kin, which is a contact provided by the patient, who is already aware of patient’s condition and aware that s/he is seeing us).

So I can’t emphasise enough that seeking professional mental health care and help will not leave you with any permanent damage and record. If you allow the condition and symptoms to worsen, things can be a lot worse than what it is now.

However, with the patient’s consent, we do write medical reports, stating the patient’s mental condition and functionality. A medical report usually serve a specific purpose, like when one’s trying to apply for insurance (written to insurance company), trying to take a gap year from studies or work (written to his/her college or workplace), trying to change teaching location (written to ministry of health) etc. This is the part we can never guarantee. For insurance company, I would just hope that they deal with those reports professionally. And for a college, a company or a government department that holds one’s medical report, it does seem possible to leave a permanent record and affect one’s future. I remember there was a student requested to have a letter written to her favour, and few years later contacted us again to ask if it is possible to write another letter to waive off the previous letter… Surely it is not possible. Even if you’re now healthy and fit (even with 0.0001% chances of relapse), your previous record becomes your mental history, it doesn’t disappear and can never be removed that way. So, do take a deep consideration, before you request for any report submitted to anyone anywhere.






Muscle Relaxation

Core principles of muscle relaxation:

  • Non-doing: you can’t do muscle relaxation. It is a ceasing of doing. A ceasing of effort.
  • There is always a deeper level of relaxation (people underestimate how much they can relax)

Here is a recording of muscle relaxation skills training:

Muscle Relaxation Recording (English) 

It starts around 6 seconds later. Basically you will be asked to tense various muscle groups in turn, then relax them as deeply as possible.

In general only a few practice of this would be sufficient to develop awareness of muscle tension during the day, then you can just use the cue words (in the recording) to relax any muscle group during exhalation any time of the day, anywhere once you notice the tension. This means that you will not need this guided audio in the long run.



  • 过去自杀企图(Previous suicidal attempts):包括家庭成员的自杀史,将显示对方可能熟悉把自杀当成解决问题的方式。(10分)
  • 家庭精神问题史,或目前有精神问题的诊断(包括人格障碍,含或不含自残行为)。(9分)
  • 毒品或物质滥用史(毒品和酒精可以使一个人失去理性,也可以被用来压抑情绪)。(8分)
  • 抑郁,对未来感到绝望、无助。(7分)
  • 童年遭受虐待或严重创伤。(6分)
  • 孤立自己、疏远其他人,与家人没有建立良好关系、没有联系。(5分)
  • 最近经历丧生或丧失,分离、离婚、失恋。(4分)
  • 患有危及生命的疾病或慢性身体疾病(如,癌症、艾滋、老人痴呆症等)。(3分)
  • 经济问题。(2分)
  • 失业。(1分)



  • 很多人把“讨论自杀”视为禁忌,但是问对方“你是否有自杀念头”并不会使对方更想自杀。相反的,坦诚真心地一起讨论反而会使对方觉得自己被理解、自己其实并不孤独。
  • 可以用一些比较开放式的问题,比如“你对未来有什么想法?”,对方可能没有那么直接地说“我希望我可以这一觉睡下去再也不会醒来”。
  • 注意对方对未来或目前的情况(尤其困境)的无助感、绝望感、悲观想法。
  • 注意一些非言语的信号,比如把个人财物托付给别人,或安排身后事。
  • 自杀的念头与自杀的计划并不同。很多人在一生当中都会想过“自杀”,但是并不打算付诸行动。同样地,可以问对方,“你是否有计划怎么去进行?”,一旦发现对方有了计划(比如,想好了以什么形式比较快捷不疼痛,或把孩子送去妈妈家后独处时容易怎么做等),务必着手处理(必要时报警、送院让他留院接受治疗)。
  • 如果对方曾经企图自杀,这会是显示他将来可能再做出类似行为的最重要信号。



心灵扶助协会 (The Befrienders)
热线:03-7956 8144/ 03-7956 8145

马来西亚生命线协会 (Life Line Association Malaysia)
热线 :03-4265 7995

马来西亚博爱辅导中心 (Agape Counselling Center Malaysia)
热线: 03-7785 5955 / 03-7781 0800