‘Mental health a priority’


PETALING JAYA: The Health Ministry has made mental health a priority in its fight against the Covid-19 pandemic as it affects frontliners, patients and society.

Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba (pic) said the ministry had taken various steps to ensure that mental health issues were addressed and treated at all levels of society.

“This year is the most challenging as the whole world has been ravaged by the Covid-19 pandemic, which not only affects our health physically but mentally as well.

“Society has been impacted emotionally with worry, fear, isolation, uncertainty and stress stemming from changes to life’s norms.

“Those affected include workers who risk losing their jobs, livelihood and financial constraints.

“Frontliners are not spared from emotional problems and stress due to their duties, increased workload or burnout,” said Dr Adham in conjunction with World Mental Health Day yesterday.

The National Health and Morbidity Survey (NHMS) last year found that prevalence of depression in those aged 16 and above was at 2.3% or nearly half a million Malaysians.

In 2017, the NHMS found that suicidal ideation among Malaysian teenagers between the ages of 13 and 17 had increased from 7.9% in 2009 to 10%.

“Based on this, it is important for mental health to be part of the government’s health agenda,” said Dr Adham, adding that the ministry had launched “Let’s Talk Healthy Minds” in October last year.

“This is catered for everyone, regardless of race, religion, age and gender,” he said, adding that during the pandemic, the ministry had provided mental health and psychosocial services to targeted groups.

“The ministry, along with Mercy Malaysia, has created psychosocial support and counselling hotlines to assist staff and health workers handling the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The people can also get mental healthcare through four mental health institutions, 1,001 health clinics, 66 hospitals and 29 community mental health centres throughout the country,” said Dr Adham, congratulating Tengku Puteri Raja Tengku Puteri Iman Afzan Al-Sultan Abdullah who was recently appointed the international patron of World Mental Health Day 2020.

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