UNESCO Promotes Mental Health Interventions during the Pandemic to Assist Children with Autism and their Parents in Malaysia

Photo credit belongs to Polina Kovaleva

UNESCO Jakarta Office joined forces with IDEAS Autism Centre to deliver series of 10 online mental health sessions to provide mental health support during the COVID-19 pandemic for 33 autistic children and their parents from low-income families in Malaysia. The project that was launched on 15 July 2021 aims to raise awareness and reduce the stigma of mental health and autism.  

Mrs Nursyafiqa Mohd Sahri, Mom of Mohamad Afif Nidzam, 6 years old, shared her experiences as a participant of this project, "We are incredibly grateful to IDEAS Autism Centre for organizing mental health intervention. The counsellor has been very helpful in keeping us positive during this time. The way the counsellor explained was relaxed and easy to understand. Also, there were examples and videos that gave me a better understanding of some parenting styles and practices because all of these affect a child's development and mental health. I was also informed that this project is supported by UNESCO. Thank you for helping people like us and sticking together during this tough time."  

"I believe that many people with mental illness do not receive proper treatment. They may think that no one can help them, or sometimes they do not recognize the symptoms. People from low-income backgrounds at IDEAS Autism Centre struggle to put food on the table and cannot afford or access treatment. The social stigma of mental illness also keeps them from getting help. I am grateful that UNESCO Jakarta is committed to helping children with autism and their parents at IDEAS Autism Centre.

This project would not have been possible without UNESCO's support." said Noor Nadhirah Noor Khan, Fundraising and Partnerships Executive of IDEAS Autism Centre.  

The collaboration is part of UNESCO Jakarta’s “Sport Against COVID-19" initiative" to support the most vulnerable and marginalized communities using human rights-based and innovative youth-led and community-oriented projects. It intends to promote help-seeking behaviours and emotional well-being practices among parents and carers of autistic children and to provide interventions for autistic children with challenging behaviours. This project contributes to SDG 3 (Good Health and Well-Being), SDG 4 (Quality Education), and SDG 10 (Reduced Inequalities).

For more information, please contact the Social and Human Sciences Unit of UNESCO Jakarta through Mr Irakli Khodeli ( or Ms Clarissa Tanurahardja (