MoH launches 2020-2025 Mental Health Strategic Plan

by AZALEA AZUAR / pic by TMR FILE

THE Health Ministry (MoH) has launched the 2020-2025 Mental Health Strategic Plan in conjunction with World Mental Health Day.

The e-book guide is to assist ministries, stakeholders, non-governmental organisations, and private companies in matters of mental health for Malaysians.

The plan was launched virtually yesterday alongside the “Let’s Talk, Healthy Mind” campaign, which empowers Malaysians to come forth and seek mental health help.

It encourages Malaysians to check on their loved ones, be it friends or family members as talking about their feelings would help with the wellbeing of their mental health.

The campaign also features the #AdakahAndaOK social media movement where users can take a photo of themselves, use the exclusive “AdakahAndaOK” stickers provided, use the hashtag and tag three of their friends.

This campaign is in response to the rising mental health issues caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin Abu Bakar (picture) believes that the numbers of mental health cases were not accurately recorded.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has caused health problems, loss of loved ones, and socioeconomic problems, and this has multiplied the amount of stress and anxiety faced by our society.

“I am sure depression figures have been understated,” he said at the event.

There are many issues that need to be tackled regarding mental health, among which is the social stigma that one who undergoes treatment is deemed as mentally unsound.

Khairy believes that Malaysians need to normalise mental health treatment and get rid of the stigma by amending laws.

Earlier, Deputy Health Minister Datuk Aaron Ago Dagang said the Home Ministry and the Attorney-General’s Chambers had agreed to abolish Section 309 of the Penal Code which criminalises suicide.

Once the stigma has been removed, Khairy aimed to make mental health care accessible to all Malaysians.

He also hoped that the Finance Ministry would be able to allocate a huge sum to MoH to enhance their mental health efforts. Currently, MoH has the infrastructure but more investment is needed.

MoH has collaborated with Mercy Malaysia to set up a psychosocial help and support line that would provide emotional support not only for frontliners battling Covid-19, but all Malaysians.

Additionally, the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry has also set up Talian Kasih, while the Department of Islamic Development has set up the JSK Care Line.

It was found that 80% of the callers were in need of emotional and psychosocial support. MoH has also conducted a free mental health screening for bottom 40% groups, where patients have been given questionnaires regarding their mental state.