With the harsh effects of the pandemic, the past two years have shined a new and much needed spotlight on the cruciality of improving the state of mental wellbeing and care in Malaysia from several perspectives including awareness, accessibility, affordability and quality of care.
The suicide rates in Malaysia climbed nearly 150% during the first half of 2021 as compared to last year – a clear sign of deteriorating mental wellbeing. Recognising the need to address this, Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin announced that the Malaysian Government would be investing heavily to improve the digitalisation of mental health services with the usage of technology to expand the reach.
Towards this end, Skybi, an online mental health service platform, has rolled out 2 new initiatives, Free Mental Health Screening for ALL and Skybi Mental Health Community Service, that looks to make mental healthcare more accessible to some of the most at risk and impacted individuals – be it within B40 communities or for those with other special circumstances.
Through the programme, Skybi allocates 6 volunteers from amongst mental health professionals and trainees to provide free mental health consultation for the community across the country through their online platform. To date the programme has positively impacted many individuals and plans are for the programme to continue indefinitely.
Whilst the Skybi Mental Health Community Service programme offers a discounted price from as low as RM10 to make therapy sessions accessible for those with financial constraints without compromising the quality of service offered. Students can also benefit from this service. Under the community service programme, Skybi has also collaborated with Uni Enrol & Edukaji to provide students with soft skills workshops.
On top of that Skybi also conducts free webinars for underserved communities, educating them on their mental health and destigmatising the concept of reaching out for mental health help. They have covered topics such as suicide prevention, stress management and conducted a Psychological First Aid Workshop for teachers and caregivers to identify those in need of emotional support.
Skybi also offer their services for the working community, offering mental health services to corporate staff, helping HR teams evaluate their talent, providing psychological and career assessment by conducting a staff attitude and need analysis to help their workforce adapt and be ready for an ever-changing environment influenced by industrial revolution and the pandemic. Skybi has served clients such as Dapat Vista, Crowdo and Big Domain (Colla).
Commenting on the initiative, Kai Lin Ng, Skybi’s Vice President of Operation and a registered mental health practitioner with more than 10 years experience in the field, said, “By now, there can be no denying that there is a pressing need for increased mental healthcare. This is especially so for those in lower income brackets that may be at even greater risk and unfortunately simply can’t afford the, at times, costly expense of taking care of their mental health through professional means. Understanding this, Skybi has taken the initiative to not only rollout a temporary campaign to address this but to make social outreach for mental health a core pillar of our organisation.”
Recognising that all Malaysians need great access to mental healthcare, Skybi offers an online-first mental health service that prioritises affordability and great professional care. Utilising a digital platform, Skybi is able to reach out to Malaysians across the country, organising and conducting sessions for clients even in the most remote locations.
The online system also allows sessions to be scheduled across a large timeframe accommodating for the more varied work and life schedules of Malaysians. Additionally, the online appointment and therapy session system allows clients to seek help in the comfort of their own homes or personal space which helps avoid the unfortunate stigma associated with seeking mental health help.
The online approach, has also helped Skybi cutdown on operational costs which in turn allows them to offer rates that are at least 25% cheaper than conventional physical centres. “As a social enterprise, our target is to help Malaysians achieve mental wellness and child-like happiness, in spite of their social or financial standing. We know that there are several factors that hinder more people from seeking out the mental care help that they need. Through Skybi we aim to systematically address each of these issues, whether it is time or geographic in nature or even affordability and anonymity,” Kai Lin added.
To ensure quality service, Skybi employs certified professionals with 18 licensed practitioners and 8 counselling trainees. They are able to expertly field and conduct counselling/psychotherapy sessions across a broad variety of scenarios and circumstances including individual therapy, marriage therapy, family therapy and corporate counselling amongst others.
Skybi is also guided by a board of advisors, bringing with them an average of 15 years of industry experience. Amanda Sabri brings her expertise in digital solutions to the table as the senior advisor of Skybi. Henry Tye, the IT and Marketing Director of Skybi, has 26 years of experience in the industry specialising in cloud solutions and business growth hacking. Jin Hui Wong contributed to Skybi by raising RM1.8 million in the seed round thanks to his experience in Southeast Asia’s venture capital scene.
Skybi’s online platform grew from their aspiration to utilise the cloud and offer an easy to use and streamlined experience for those seeking for emotional support. Simply log-on to the platform and fill out a simple survey to allow Skybi to better understand the requirements. From there, Skybi matches potential clients with a suitable counsellor or psychologist and allows users to schedule sessions at their convenience. For clients that prefer it, Skybi also offers the option of face-to-face therapy sessions.
“Ultimately, we want to develop Skybi to become the go to platform where we can onboard mental health practitioners and other centres online, simultaneously giving a wider access of mental health services to Malaysians no matter the location,” Kai Lin concluded.
In line with their aspiration to reach out to the community, Skybi has partnered with the likes of Cowork Venture (Corporate Venture Funds), Big Domain Colla Team (Job Technology Platform), and ARC Parenting Group (LearnParenting Platform). More recently, they forged a collaboration with UNIIQ Kombucha for their ‘This is Me’ campaign which looked to champion self-acceptance and self-actualization.