As she began to pursue her new calling, Malati has met other Malaysians who have dedicated themselves to advocacy. Through Monsters Among Us (MAU), a non-profit organisation that seeks to end child sexual abuse in Malaysia, Malati was able to volunteer as a workshop facilitator, educating children and their caregivers on the very real problem of online child sexual abuse.
"At the moment, I’ve also collaborated with a local theatre production fivekosongtujo as their Mental Health Ambassador for their latest show ‘ASAL’. When they reached out to me I was so inspired by how they were choosing to start the conversation on mental health through performance art. While it’s so easy to throw a label like Gila, ASAL brings to life the hidden reality of someone going through mental health issues."
These conversations are not the easiest subjects to publicly speak about, particularly when most Asians have been taught to repress and suppress their emotions. However, Malati is hopeful for the future of mental health in Malaysia, especially after last year's announcement that personal tax relief would also cover therapy.
But we still have ways to go. "It is my hope that more emphasis is given to creating awareness for children’s mental lealth, something 424,000 children in Malaysia are struggling with. I was shocked to see the report by PDRM that more than half of the suicide cases recorded between January 2019 to May 2021 were of teenagers. The numbers and my own experience as a child living with anxiety and depression is what prompted me to focus on children’s mental health. Rather than being looked at as a last resort, therapy can be an important tool in a child’s well-being and I hope that more children (and their caregivers) are given access to that in the future."