Monday, May 20, 2024

Nepean psychiatrist’s mission to help the Philippines

Nepean Blue Mountains Local Health District (NBMLHD) Psychiatrist, Dr Chris Mah, is facing his biggest challenge yet as he embarks on a medical mission to the Philippines to provide medical assistance to those in need. 

With a background in psychiatry and as a General Practitioner (GP), Dr Mah has been an integral part of the mental health service at NBMLHD for nine years, with his first time with Nepean as a registrar in 2003.

This year he was accepted as part of an Australian medical team of 35+ volunteers to the Philippines by MultiBridge Community Centre Inc and Full Gospel Assembly Melbourne.

The team consisting of medical doctors, optometrists, nurses and many others will provide general medical consults, dental and optical services to vulnerable communities, consulting over 450 people per day.

Dr Mah learned about the mission through a friend, who had gone for multiple years and recommended the program to him.

“They were shocked by what they saw in terms of how confronting it was to see the poverty and the hardship that people were going through,” says Dr Mah.

The previous year, “…the program had a psychologist, and she was quite busy dealing with mental health issues. However, she was not available to join the team this year, which in part is why I volunteered!”

He says his core values of service and charity have always been an integral part of his life.

“I think it’s an important thing to make a difference trying to help where we can help.”

“I also do have that advantage of having a GP background plus a mental health one and like many other Asian countries, mental health is often not talked about or addressed much. It’s an opportunity to start introducing a little bit in such a way that is helpful.”

To prepare for his medical mission, Dr Mah has been familiarising himself on the culture differences of those in the Philippines.

“There’s a strong respect for elders over in the Philippines. For example, an expectation that’s been brought up is we make sure we take our time with everyone, especially the elderly and if we don’t finish on time, it means we stay there until the job is done.”

He recommends others to consider volunteering if they are able to.

“I think it gives people an opportunity to appreciate what they have.”

“I’ve been very encouraged by the support from everybody, including the people here at work. It’s been really nice to see how it opens up conversations about how they also view things like this.”

For those interested in supporting Dr Mah’s medical mission, visit: Making a Difference | Christopher Mah (gofundraise.com.au). Your support will go towards essential medical equipment, medicines, and other necessities for the clinic. 

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