KUALA LUMPUR, June 25 — The Ministry of Health’s (MOH) Psychosocial Support Helpline received a total of 122,328 calls seeking emotional support and counselling for the first six months of the year, says Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah.
He said the figure was recorded from Jan 1 to June 18 and a total of 109,806 calls or 89.4 per cent were related to psychosocial issues as a result of various social problems due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Among the issues were loss of jobs and income, loss of a place of dependence, arguments among family members and marital problems like quarrels, separation, divorce and abuse (emotional and physical).
“Stress is not only experienced by staff in the public sector and health personnel or frontliners, but it is also felt by other groups within the society.
“The helpline, which was set up on March 25, 2020 and managed by MOH counselling psychology officers and volunteer psychology officers from other agencies and non-governmental organisations, found that most callers needed emotional support and counselling,” he said in a statement today.
Besides the helpline, Dr Noor Hisham said other initiatives implemented included collaborations with other government agencies by setting up their respective helplines, namely KSK Care (Department of Islamic Development Malaysia) and Talian KASIH.
At the field level, such as hospitals and health clinics, the initiative carried out is the setting up of the Mental Health Service and Psychosocial Support Services or MHPSS for the targeted groups.
“The targeted groups comprise person under surveillance (PUS) at quarantine stations and at home, COVID-19 patients at hospitals or COVID-19 Low-Risk Quarantine and Treatment Centre (PKRC), health personnel and other agencies handling the pandemic as well as and family members to individuals who died of COVID-19,” he said.
Meanwhile, Dr Noor Hisham advised the public to take measures to reduce the psychosocial impact throughout the pandemic, such as identifying the source of their worries by getting accurate and right information, besides not discriminating, stigmatising or negatively labelling those infected by COVID-19.
He also recommended the public to maintain optimum fitness and peace of mind; ensure continuous communication with family and friends; always pay close attention to changes in one’s own self and individuals who require support and, most importantly, immediately seek counselling if in need of emotional support.
“Stress will become a problem if it prolongs or affects an individual’s daily functions. Get a psychiatric evaluation immediately if this happens.
“It must be noted that mental health is just s important as physical health and prevention at an early stage can help,” he said.