Khairy: 14% of frontliners suffer severe mental disorders, lack of childcare support

KUALA LUMPUR: Some 14% of frontliners managing the Covid-19 have suffered from severe mental disorders, says Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin.

Quoting a study by the Institute for Health Behavioural Research (IPTK) in 2020, he said lack of childcare support at home while the frontliners were out on duty were among factors that contributed to this issue.

“To date, the Health Ministry has conducted two studies and monitoring indicators related to the issue of mental health in society.

“The study by the IPTK in 2020 found that 14.2% of frontliners experienced severe mental disorders,” he said.

Khairy added that taking into account the impact of mental health on the society, the ministry would also conduct a more comprehensive study to look at the psychosocial impact on society in general.

“This online study is expected to start at the end of September,” he said in a written parliamentary reply to Datuk Dr Hasan Bahrom (PH – Tampin) on Wednesday (Sept 15).

Hasan had asked Khairy to state whether comprehensive studies had been done on mental health issues, as well as the pressures of life experienced by urban and rural folks during the pandemic.

Hasan had also wanted to know what were the policies and measures to overcome these issues.

Khairy said a study based on the findings of the psychosocial help and support line found that as many as 82.1% callers needed emotional support and counselling.

The problems involved social issues such as job and income loss, family conflicts, interpersonal relationship issues, stigma against infection, isolation and lack of access to aid during the movement control order, he said.

“The Health Ministry has drafted a Strategic National Mental Health Plan (2020 – 2025), which outlines several strategies in dealing with mental health issues including to promote mental health among all walks of life, ensuring the provision and access to comprehensive and quality mental health services, strengthening readiness of mental health services during a crisis and disasters, as well as increasing collaborative efforts with relevant agencies,” he said.