Health DG: 9,338 calls made to ministry hotline, most requiring emotional support

PETALING JAYA: The Health Ministry has received 9,338 calls to its mental health hotline to-date, with most callers requiring emotional support, says its director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah.

Dr Noor Hisham said more than 50% of people who have called the hotline required emotional support due to stress, loss of hope, loss of jobs, loss of income and even interpersonal problems.

He added that 18.8% of people who have called the hotline had asked about Covid-19.

"We gave them counselling about their fears and worries on the virus, and have also taken the opportunity to give them the latest information that we have," he said during his daily press briefing on Wednesday (June 3).

Dr Noor Hisham noted that 7% of the calls also involved issues such as domestic violence and family issues.

He added that people have also called the hotline for basic issues such as financial problems.

Dr Noor Hisham added that the ministry currently has 148 counselling officers, acknowledging that it was not enough.

He said the ratio of counselling officers to the population was currently one in 52,000 people, noting that ideally it should be one in 500 people.

Dr Noor Hisham also said the ministry has increased its mental health service capabilities through the use of digital technology.

"We hope more Malaysians will use more of our online services, and if need be after the counselling session, we will also advise if there is a need to be admitted to a hospital.

"Right now, it is sufficient to use the virtual or online method to provide psychosocial counselling to people," he said.

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