Look into well-being of family, folk urged


JOHOR BARU: Parents play an important role in providing love and care when raising their children.

Kuala Lumpur Befrienders patron Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye said in today’s challenging environment, parents must be willing to listen and talk openly with their children when it comes to mental health issues.

“This will contribute to better mental wellness, ’’ he said.

Lee said they could do this by taking care of the well-being of their family.

“Make sure they exercise regularly, get enough sleep and follow a healthy diet.

He said it was rather disturbing to note that some 500,000 Malaysians were suffering from symptoms of anxiety and depression, based on the National Health and Morbidity Survey (NHMS) 2019.

Lee said the survey also found that about 424,000 children were suffering from mental health problems, with half of them having the symptoms as early as 14 years old and one-third of them in their mid-20s.

“The situation is rather alarming and we need to address this matter fast, ’’ he said.

Lee hoped the Education Ministry could include mental health aspects in the school syllabus, including building resilience, stress management and problem solving skills.

He said the Covid-19 pandemic and the movement control order (MCO) had also caused an increase in emotional stress to many people.

Lee said they have to adapt to the new norm during the pandemic such as working from home and staying indoors as much as possible.

He hoped the government would consider increasing the financial allocation for mental health in Budget 2021, compared to the RM344.82mil allocated for this in Budget 2020.

Universiti Teknologi Malaysia counselling centre director Dr Zulfikar Ahmad said while most people would be able to adapt to the situation brought by the pandemic, some may not and suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

He said some of the symptoms for SAD included feeling sad, grumpy, anxious and moody (getting angry or sad without warning).

“They will lose interest in the usual activities, gain or lose weight drastically, suffer from fatigue, have sleep disorders and also appetite problems, ’’ said Dr Zulfikar.

He said other symptoms included difficulty concentrating and making choices, feeling of hopelessness and worthlessness due to less interaction.

He said everyone has the responsibility to act fast and offer assistance if their loved ones or colleagues had these symptoms.

“All of us need moral support during this trying times, especially the elderly and if possible avoid being alone, ’’ said Dr Zulfikar.

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