Every October 10 is World Mental Health Day. This year, the day is an important reminder that we need to do more for each other in combating the stress of the Covid19 Pandemic that has swept the globe for the last two years.
The overall objective of World Mental Health Day is to raise awareness of mental health issues around the world and to mobilize efforts in support of mental health. The Day provides an opportunity for all stakeholders working on mental health issues to talk about their work, and what more needs to be done to make mental health care a reality for people worldwide.
The “New Normal” has brought about a lot of change, fast and unrelenting change. Mental health has come into focus as a result. People like burnt-out frontliners, students coping with online classes, people living alone detached from their families for over 2 years and some who have pre-existing mental health conditions, are some of those who have been severely affected by the Pandemic and the movement lockdowns.
Then there are those who are unemployed or had to close down their business. 778,200 people are unemployed currently in Malaysia. 13.7% or 344,100 of our youth are unemployed.
Our suicide rates are high. Police recorded 468 suicides in the first five months of 2021, climbing from an annual total of 631 in 2020 and 609 in 2019. More alarmingly, a UNICEF article reported that 872 young people in Malaysia took their lives from January 2019 up to May 2021. Children between 15 -18 years old made up 51 per cent of the total 1,708 suicide cases recorded in that time period.
Reachout.my is an initiative that wants to help.
It provides online mental health and wellbeing solutions for everyone. It is an informative website that provides resources to those with mental distress to help them out. It is a collaborative effort led by the Malaysian Mental Health Association, Rotary District 3300 Malaysia, the National Coalition of Mental Wellbeing, and the BAC Education Group.
The BAC Education Group’s Chairman, Raja Singham, who led the formation of Reachout.my said it was heartwarming to see how many people have volunteered to help people in need.
“These are trying times, with unprecedented loss of lives and livelihoods. People across the nation are struggling to cope with the drastic change in their way of life and this causes anxiety, depression, and other mental health problems. ReachOut is our way of telling them that they are not alone and that we will get through this together.
President of the Malaysian Mental Health Association, Dato Dr Andrew Mohanraj said that it is important to continuously educate people in Malaysia on mental health because most associate it with stigmas.
“Proper education is important in finding solutions to mental health issues. Education starts when people reach out for help and this is not a sign of weakness,” he said.
Rotary Malaysia District 3300 Governor Dato Bindi Rajasegaran added that the website alongside its helplines, on-going Mental Health seminars and short videos will definitely make a difference to those going through a tough time, they just need to reach out.
Responding to the need to showcase the available Helplines in the country, the National Coalition of Mental Wellbeing (NCMW) has listed active Helplines in multiple languages of its members on ReachOut’s website. There are training sessions, webinars and events that serve the same purpose. There is an event tonight, 12th & 14th October.
Now they are working on increasing the capacity to cope with the demand and to make sure more people are aware of the services and help offered.
Call them now and Reach Out if you or someone you know need help.