mental health
Photo by Nik MacMillan on Unsplash

In Malaysia, there are all sorts of settings where you can seek professional mental health support/services. Hence, it is very common for clients or those who are in need of such services to feel frustrated and confused by all the different settings, locations, centers, etc. “Should I go to a private center? Or a government hospital? Or should I just go to a non-profit organization?”

Well, fear not! Through this article, we will list down all the different service providers/settings that you can find in Malaysia, their differences and unique characteristics, so that finding the right sort of help becomes that much easier.

We are going to dedicate different sections in the article that follows not by the settings themselves (ie. “government hospitals”, “private settings”, & “non-profit organizations”), but by their qualitative categories (ie. their different “charges” & “professionals working there”, etc).

This is to ease the reader as they don’t have to memorize them one by one. Instead, you can just look at the aspects that you are confused about and differentiate them at a glance. So, let’s begin!

Mental Health Professionals

In Malaysian government hospitals, you can find psychiatrists (as well as trainees in psychiatry), and these professionals will mainly handle the diagnostic and the medication aspects of mental health services. Some major government hospitals will also have clinical psychologists and registered counselors stationed there as well, and they will provide psychological/behavioral assessments and psychotherapy. Lastly, trainees who are under supervision (from those studying a Master’s degree in clinical psychology and counseling) will also be stationed in government hospitals as well.

First and foremost, there are three types of private settings: private hospitals, private clinics, and private centers. In major private hospitals, you will also find all three professionals stationed there as well: psychiatrists, clinical psychologists, and counselors. In private psychological centers, however, you will mostly find clinical psychologists and registered counselors. Lastly, in private (psychiatry) clinics, you will either only find psychiatrists operating the whole establishment, or a mixture of psychiatrists, and clinical psychologists or registered counselors.

Lastly, the third setting is the non-profit organizations/university centers (clinics). In non-profit organizations, you will find lay counselors (usually volunteers, and are not mental health professionals, but who have received sufficient training), registered counselors, and clinical psychologists (though these are usually quite limited in personnel). In university clinics or centers, however, you will find lecturers who are also at the same time clinical psychologists/registered counselors stationed there. And trainees who are currently pursuing a Master’s degree in clinical psychology or counseling will also be stationed and work under supervision in such a setting.

Charges (Fees)

How about the fees? Well, in Malaysia, it is quite well-known that government hospitals offer the best and minimal fees required (but this also comes with its own conditions).

For private settings in Malaysia, the clinical psychologists, psychiatrists, and counselors usually charge by the hour. And each therapy or consultation session (usually one hour per session), ranges from RM 150 to RM 450, and they vary due to other factors such as the location of the center, the qualification and experience of the mental health professional stationed there, etc. And when it comes to psychological assessments, this depends on the number of tests required to fully understand and examine a client’s condition, and the fee can range to RM 1,000 and above.

For non-profit or university settings, the fee is usually free of charge, or have either very affordable rates or subsidized rates. You can find non-profit centers with fees that range from RM 5 to RM 150 per one-hour session.

Waiting List (How Long We Need to Wait for our Turn)

In government settings, there is usually a long waiting list, and some clients have to wait for 6 to 12 months for their turn to receive services. This is unless their cases are urgent and need immediate attention.

For private settings, the waiting list is way shorter than government settings, and most clients can receive their turn immediately, and in worst cases, in less than four weeks.

Lastly, for non-profit/university settings, the waiting list is long as well, but this also depends on the organizations, and they also receive clients if their cases are urgent and in need of immediate attention.

Do I Need Referral Letters (For Each Setting)?

For government settings, in order to seek for services there, you are required to present a referral letter (although some are exempted from this term and condition – Pusat Mentari’s which will be detailed in another article in the future).

For private settings, you are not required to have a referral letter in order to receive services there.

For non-profit/university settings, similar to government settings, you are required to present a referral letter while visiting there as well.

(This article cites info gained from MSCP)

You can read our article on the different mental health professionals in Malaysia.

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Jason Hew
Jason Hew is a graduate of HELP University in the Bachelor's Degree in Psychology. One of MY Psychology's founding members, he wrote screenplays and articles for MY Psychology ever since its inception. He currently works as the center manager and administrator for MY Psychology's Center. Still writes occasionally.

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