Tackling mental health crisis needs collective effort, says Yeoh

PUTRAJAYA: It takes ministries working together to tackle mental health issues among youth, says Hannah Yeoh.

With new research indicating that young Malaysians face potential mental health problems, the Youth and Sports Minister said they need more recreational activities to improve their mental wellbeing.

While the ministry’s own Rakan Muda programme provides some respite for the youth, Yeoh said other ministries could use the latest findings to offer solutions.

ALSO READ: Experts: Youth’s mental wellbeing requires transformation of cities and social life

“When you look at the coping mechanism point (from the report), there are four methods of how youth manage stress – leisure activities, spending time with family and friends, worship or spiritual activities and outdoor activities.

“I am happy that all this correlates with the 10 Rakan Muda activities that address the needs of today’s youth such as Rakan Litar (racing) and Rakan Digital,” she said during her speech at the launch of the Malaysian Youth Mental Health Index 2023 (MyMHI’23) report at a hotel here yesterday.

Produced by the Institute for Youth Research Malaysia (Iyres) and United Nations Children’s Fund, the report gave Malaysia a score of 71.91 – a moderately satisfactory level that serves as an early indication of potential mental health problems among Malaysian youth.

ALSO READ: Survey: Majority of Malaysian youth have got the blues

The MyMHI’23, which involved 5,867 respondents, covered seven domains – lifestyle, surrounding environment, personal characteristics, life experiences, social support, coping mechanism, and healthy mind – and supported by 28 indicators.

Yeoh said MyMHI’23 will be presented to the Cabinet to ensure that more ministries are involved in tackling mental health issues among youth.

She said Orang Asli youth scored the lowest in the index, adding that it is pertinent for an engagement session with the related ministries to acknowledge such findings.

ALSO READ: Malaysian youths' mental health status at moderate level, study finds

“We also need to engage with the National Unity Ministry for it to know what kind of engagement it can do.

“Also, the Housing Ministry (under the Local Government Development Ministry), for example, would know how to provide better space for recreational activities as some PPR (People’s Housing Programme) projects lack such areas for the purpose,” she added.

Yeoh also suggested that the Health Ministry’s Mentari mental health outreach programme be made available at shopping malls instead of just hospitals to enable better access and to remove the stigma among youth of seeking help from experts and specialists.

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