PETALING JAYA: The Covid-19 pandemic has taken a toll on people’s mental health with 44% of Malaysians saying that their mental wellness has been affected since the pandemic began, according to a global survey by Ipsos.
The survey found 37% of respondents were feeling down some of the time, while 7% were feeling down all the time.
The poll, covering Covid-19’s impact on wellness, was conducted between Sept 18 and 22 and targeted 3,000 adults aged 18 years and above in South-East Asia, comprising 500 individuals per country.
It also said 47% of Malaysians experienced no change in terms of mental wellness, while 9% were happier than before.
Malaysia is currently under the recovery movement control order (MCO), which has been extended until Dec 31.
Ipsos also found Malaysia ranked better compared to its South-East Asian peers, with the Philippines ranking the highest with 62% of the respondents feeling they were either feeling down some or all of the time during the Covid-19 pandemic.
This is followed by Singapore (57%), Thailand (56%), Vietnam (54%) and Indonesia (50%).
It also found 56% of Malaysians have been less physically active since the pandemic hit, with 47% doing less physical activity than usual and 9% not doing physical activities at all.
In a separate poll, Ipsos also found 55% of Malaysians believed that health and physical well-being were a key source of happiness.
This survey was conducted between July 24 and Aug 7, among 19,516 adults across 27 countries, with 500 Malaysians polled for it.
World Mental Health Day is tomorrow.
In an immediate response, Malaysian Mental Health Association president Prof Datuk Dr Andrew Mohanraj said the poll was a useful study to demonstrate the pandemic’s impact on mental health.
“The higher percentages seen in the Philippines and Indonesia could be a reflection of having more Covid-19 hotspots compared to Malaysia, ” he said.
“With Singapore, on the other hand, despite being more controlled than other countries, it has a higher percentage of respondents with mental stress.
“This could be due to a more competitive urban environment, ” he said.
He also noted all stakeholders need to be proactive in providing mental health support and proper transmission of information,
Dr Mohanraj added that authorities must also appear convincing in their efforts to flatten the Covid-19 curve.
Clinical psychologist Dr Joel Low said that several factors come into play with such results, noting that Malaysians tend to look out for one another rather than being individualistic.
“It would provide another possible reason why we’ve been quite robust against the negative mental health impact of Covid-19, ” he said.
He added that the country had one of the better track records in dealing with the pandemic, citing the country’s Health director-general’s achievement locally and internationally.
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