The Covid-19 mental toll on Malaysia: Over 37,000 calls to help hotlines

A man uses his mobile phone during a ride on an LRT in Kuala Lumpur March 24, 2020. — Bern
A man uses his mobile phone during a ride on an LRT in Kuala Lumpur March 24, 2020. — Bern

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 19 — The Health Ministry has disclosed that 37,009 calls were made to helplines during the Covid-19 pandemic. More than half called seeking emotional and psychological support.

The helplines for mental health services and psychosocial support were set up by the Health Ministry at the Crisis Preparedness and Response Centre (CPRC) at both the national and state levels.

“Besides that, helplines also involved several government agencies and non-governmental organisations such as MERCY Malaysia,” the ministry said in a written parliamentary reply yesterday.

It was responding to Cheras MP Tan Kok Wai who wanted to know the rate of mental health issues that were reported in Malaysia since the coronavirus broke out here and asked for a breakdown according to gender and age.

The ministry said that 37,009 of the phone calls were received from these helplines as of November 11, with the highest category of callers (19,729 calls or 53.3 per cent) being those who sought emotional support related to psychology.

Those who want to get information on Covid-19 accounted for 12.6 per cent of the 37,009 phone calls, while 4.98 per cent voiced their need for donations or assistance, while trouble at home or with family was also an issue with 4.6 per cent calls on domestic issues and 2.7 per cent on domestic violence.

“For the operation of such call services, those on duty who handle it are composed of psychology counselling officers and medical experts trained in the mental health field,” the ministry said.

 

 

From the 37,009 phone calls, 52.1 per cent were female, 47.9 per cent were male.

According to the ministry, the main issue raised by female callers to the helplines was related to emotional, counselling and psychological support, issues related to the household and domestic violence, while most of the male callers phoned in to complain about their employers, obtain information regarding Covid-19 and to seek aid.

As for callers who wished to obtain mental health services and psychosocial support, those aged between 20 to 39 years old accounted for half of such calls at 55.3 per cent, followed by those aged between 40 to 59 years old at 30.8 per cent.

 

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