Expert: Crucial for all to maintain healthy diet and regular exercise

PETALING JAYA: As the movement control order (MCO) reaches its halfway mark, the Malaysian Psychiatric Association (MPA) has stepped in to advise the people to keep their mental health in check.

This follows a suicide incident at the Serdang Hospital on Saturday involving a 62-year-old patient under investigation for Covid-19.

MPA secretary Dr Firdaus Abdul Gani said mental health issues were not only triggered by fear or anxiety of the pandemic but also one’s financial situation and disrupted social life.

“Although fear and anxiety about the disease is expected, it can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in certain individuals, ” he said.

Dr Firdaus said a good “coping mechanism” was needed to avoid long-term psychological impact from the Covid-19 situation.

He reminded about the importance of self-care by maintaining a well-balanced diet, regular exercise, adequate sleep and abstinence from alcohol and tobacco.

Dr Firdaus said relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, listening to music and progressive muscle relaxation may help lessen anxiety.

“Limiting media time by taking a break from watching TV, reading or following the pandemic on social media may also be useful, ” he said.

To overcome social isolation, Dr Firdaus advised people to communicate with friends and family members through social media or the telephone.

“It is helpful to keep in touch and express your concerns or worries to others. This can also be a time for family bonding and personal improvement, ” he said.

“Planning for activities to be done together and online learning has a positive impact on mental health.”

Dr Firdaus said parents should address the concerns of their children by answering questions and sharing facts on Covid-19.

Suicides triggered by the global pandemic have also been reported in Germany, Italy and India.

Thomas Schaefer, finance minister of Germany’s Hesse state, is believed to have committed suicide after becoming concerned with the Covid-19 economic fallout.

Those facing personal problems or contemplating suicide should contact the 24-hour Befrienders hotline at 05-547 7933 (Ipoh), 04-281 5161 (Penang) or 03-7956 8144 (Klang Valley).

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