GEORGE TOWN: A proposal has been made to the state government to train Village Community Management Councils (MPKK) and assemblymen’s service centres here to be better equipped to serve those with mental health issues.

State environment and welfare committee chairman Phee Boon Poh said the training under the neuro-linguistic programming (a technique used to help people gain control over their mental processes, emotional health and behaviours) could be held to address the issue.

“This training is also proposed for the emergency response teams (ERT) at both the bridges,” he said, adding that those who monitor the CCTVs along the bridge should be trained as well.

“In the short term, we can have CCTVs with an audio system, and we are looking at artificial intelligence that will be able to detect any negative activities along the bridge,” he said when met at the state legislature assembly building in Light Street here yesterday.

Phee (PH-Sungai Puyu) was commenting on the rise in cases of those falling off the Penang Bridge recently, and measures the state was taking to prevent them.

He said the PGCare Society was set up during the pandemic to manage mental health issues, but this was insufficient.

“The strategy now is to expand coverage by training people like those in the MPKK and service centres to be equipped with the knowledge to deal with those with mental health issues,” he explained.

“I have proposed there be more community events, such as line dancing and potluck parties, to bring people together as this can help them open up to each other as a way to reach out to those with issues.

“The two-and-a-half years of lockdowns during the Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in isolation and a weakening of resilience among those with mental health issues,” he said, adding that as a short-term measure, the Penang state secretary had called for a meeting with the marine police, Penang Bridge Sdn Bhd and relevant stakeholders yesterday to discuss a proposal to install safety nets along the Penang Bridge.

“We have discussed the technical details as any attachment to the bridge will need approval from the technical committee,” said Phee in response to reports of proposals for safety nets along certain spots of the 13.5km bridge.

Between May 1 to June 1, there have been nine cases reported of people falling off the Penang Bridge, with five fatalities recorded.

The latest involved a 22-year-old man, who is feared to have drowned after he fell from the Penang Bridge at KM2.2, island bound, early yesterday morning.

A state Fire and Rescue Department spokesman said the man had left his personal belongings and his car on the bridge.

“We received a call informing us of the incident at 5.39am, and a team of rescuers from the Prai fire station rushed to the scene,” he said in a statement.

“The SAR operation was activated at 6.30am with the co-operation of the Fire and Rescue Department, the Civil Defence Force and the Batu Uban marine police,” said state MMEA director, Captain Abd Razak Mohamed.

Those who need assistance for issues troubling them can reach out to the Mental Health Psychosocial Support Service (03-2935 9935 or 014-322 3392); Talian Kasih (15999/ 019-261 5999 on WhatsApp); Jakim’s (Department of Islamic Development Malaysia) family, social and community care centre (0111-959 8214 on WhatsApp); and Befrienders Kuala Lumpur (03-7627 2929 or go to the Befrienders website for a list of numbers nationwide and operating hours, or email