By: Leoniek Kroneman, Clinical Psychologist and Academic, SOLS Health
I joined SOLS Health after moving to Malaysia from the Netherlands because I was tremendously impressed by the team’s work and their commitment to their goals in destigmatizing mental health and providing accessible services.
The team at SOLS Health is ambitious, hardworking, and best of all, truly makes an impact despite the many challenges they face as a small NGO. The stigma surrounding mental health may seem impenetrable at times, yet they still advocate to raise awareness on mental health to wider society. Despite facing challenges such as tight financial resources and an overburdened public mental health system due to relatively few clinical psychologists and psychiatrists available, they still do their best in providing accessible mental healthcare.
I also saw many opportunities for myself, with my clinical and research experience, to be able to contribute towards the change that SOLS Health aims towards.
Prior to joining SOLS Health, I worked in implementing Trauma Informed Care in an adolescent mental health institute in The Netherlands for many years, where I gained both clinical and academic experience. Besides providing training for mental health practitioners, social workers and the management with a focus on professional capacity building, I also conducted research and published papers about this implementation experience, answering questions such as, “What worked well? What didn’t work out as planned?”
These experiences have greatly shaped my contribution to SOLS Health, where I play a role in helping to develop and implement Trauma Informed Care for cases involving domestic violence. One of my main tasks when I first joined SOLS Health was to train the SOLS Health team in trauma and Trauma Informed Care (TIC).
Next, applying the TIC principles, I assisted in developing BRAVE, a community-based programme that delivers therapy for victims of domestic violence. BRAVE also provides training for frontline workers in other organizations to apply TIC principles when assisting these victims (this concept is known as ‘wrap around care’).
Developing the BRAVE programme and training frontline workers have been part of my main tasks over the past few months, and one that I am greatly passionate about. It has been very rewarding indeed to see positive changes happen and the direct impact on the victims and their children.
Despite multiple challenges that SOLS Health faces, I am proud and grateful to say that we are successfully reaching the unreached. We bring mental health care to disadvantaged communities through our KAMI programme and provide subsidised treatment to families who could not afford it otherwise. Last but not least, we introduced trauma informed care in a shelter for victims of domestic violence and their children through our BRAVE programme.
Traumatic experiences such as domestic violence, neglect and sexual abuse are highly common in Malaysia, and extensive research from overseas shows that they leave detrimental effects of adverse childhood experiences on the physical, emotional and social development of children, which may carry on into their adulthood. When trauma goes unnoticed and untreated, it has a lifelong negative impact. Educating front line workers about the extent and the effects of trauma, and training them to recognise its signs and symptoms will make a difference in many lives!
If you would like to support me and my colleagues in delivering the BRAVE programme to communities in need, please donate to this fundraising campaign (https://www.ngohub.asia/users/10713/fundraisers/194). I know every ringgit will be spent wisely and will directly benefit the ones who are in need of psychological care.
Terima kasih & thank you for helping us in reaching the unreached!