Importance of Highlighting Mental Health Awareness in Light of Covid-19

            Covid-19 has had significant impact on the world on many fronts. Economical, logistical, sociological and most prominently physical well-being are the ones most pressing and often reported in day-to-day news (Pak et al., 2020). While there are many efforts and undertakings in tackling these respective areas in arrears, less is often the case when it comes to its impact of mental health well-being. In Malaysia, mental health awareness had significant barriers to overcome because of societal perception towards the topic that is still largely based in beliefs systems and perceptions that has since been long outdated. Often times, when someone is experiencing a form of mental disorder, they are often written of as being a victim of witchcraft or not being able to “just not think about it” (bin Hassan, Hassan, Kassim, Hamzah, 2018). The societal stigma that carries when someone is diagnosed with a mental health disorder is costly because they often result in traumatic experiences whereby they are discarded and isolated from society, be it due to a lack of understanding or out of not wanting shame.

            In 2019, a study on mental health help-seeking attitude among teens and young adults in Malaysia found that most respondent would not seek help because of self-imposed stigma, especially among lower income groups (Ibrahim et al., 2019). This issue has now been magnified as a result of not only due to social imposed by movement restrictions but also for fear of employment loss, a worry that is very prevalent given the economic downturns in the country (Karim, Haque, Anis, Ulfy, 2020). Economical impact is not only affecting Malaysia negatively, but on a global scale as well. The World Economic Outlook Report 2020 published by the International Monetary Fund in April 2021 found that the global economy contracted 3.5%, which was the most it had ever contracted since the end of World War 2 (International Monetary Fund, 2020). This results in widespread income cuts and job loss, especially among developing nations like Malaysia. Because suicide and depression is directly correlated to unemployment and to a lesser extend salary cuts, it is important to provide greater care and support for those who are affected (Linn, Sandifer, Stein, 1985). In statistical terms, unemployment increases suicide tendencies as much as three times than being employed at ages above 25 years old (Blakely, Tony, Sunny, June, 2003). As suicide case rise in Malaysia, so too must our efforts be in providing help to victims of not only those contracting Covid-19, but also those who are impacted economically and socially by the global pandemic that has gripped the world for so long. In doing so, by virtue of even doing something as simple as lending a listening ear or being an empathetic figure to lean on, we can help alleviate the pressures of our healthcare system as to ensure it does not collapse from being overwhelmed.

 Written by,

Adrian Chan



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