Credit: MIASA

In December 2019, I attended a wonderful conference organised by Mental Illness Awareness and Support Association, MIASA. It is a Mental Health Advocacy and Peer Support NGO based in Malaysia.

The theme of the conference was Experts by Experience. The mental health system in Malaysia is largely dominated by two factors — the medical gaze and religion. So, most people turn to either medicine or religion to heal and recover. The psychosocial model seems to be in its infancy and the trauma-informed approach, which I gave a talk about, is looked upon as a new thing.

While I was at the two-day conference, I took the opportunity to interview some key figures, change-makers as well as young people, who are experts by experience, living with mental health distress.

These videos showcase the state of mental health awareness in Malaysia and the ways in which these change-makers are paving way for a better future.

After the inordinately long delay in editing and subtitling because of COVID restrictions, we are happy and proud to bring you these videos.

Pn. Anita Abu Bakar is President of Mental Illness Awareness & Support Association (MIASA)

Diyana Adi is a recent graduate in architecture from the University of Edinburgh and is currently working as an art and design freelancer in Malaysia

Dr Abdulkadir is a psychiatrist in private practice with a passion for community mental health

Jimmy Ong is a counsellor with MIIA, Malaysia Invisible Illness Association
Ellisha Othman is the Director and Clinical Psychologist at SOLS Health

We at Mad in Asia Pacific congratulate MIASA on a wonderful conference and hope that there are many more wonderful events which bring affected people and experts together, in the hope for a more just and equal world.


Jhilmil Breckenridge is a poet and activist. She has recently co-edited a mental health anthology, Side Effects of Living, recently released through Women Unlimited and Speaking Tiger in India.