KUCHING, Oct 10 — DAP’s Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii today called for greater investment into mental health, especially the need to increase mental health professionals in the public system, including better infrastructures and accessibility.
He said there should be more training for mental health professionals, para-professionals, and allied partners including non-governmental organisations, welfare departments and school counsellors.
“There is an urgent need to ensure investment is prioritised so that Malaysia has adequate capacity to manage both the immediate post-Covid-19 pandemic mental health issues and to stay vigilant in preparation for possible future mental health crises,” he said in a statement in conjunction with the World Mental Health Day today.
He said the current pandemic has an unprecedented impact on the mental health of millions of Malaysians, adding that it is also expected to exacerbate the situation as a result of anxiety and depression caused by the economic fallouts of the pandemic and the movement control order.
“We know that the levels of anxiety, fear, isolation, social distancing and restrictions, uncertainty and emotional distress experienced have become widespread as the world struggles to bring the virus under control and to find solutions.
“As we are at war to flatten the curve of Covid-19 infections, there may be another bomb waiting to explode which is the “silent mental illness pandemic”.
“The impact of mental health conditions is not merely a health situation, but it has potentially affected the nation’s economy,” Dr Yii said.
He said in 2018, mental health conditions experienced at workplaces were estimated to cost the Malaysian economy RM14.46 billion.
“Imagine its economic impact with the increasing of cases expected this year and beyond due to the impact of Covid-19 pandemic,” he added.
“This shows the urgency of the matter and that is why much has to be done especially for greater investment in mental health to increase accessibility to all,” he said.
He noted that the National Health and Morbidity Survey 2019 estimated that about 2.3 per cent of the Malaysian population suffers from depression.
“What is more alarming is that it is reported that 424,000 Malaysian children were found to have mental health problems including anxiety and depression,” he said.
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