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Depression During Covid-19 Hits The Poor Harder

The United Nations released a report in October 2020[1] after exploring “the impact of the Covid-19 crisis on women and children in low-income urban families in Malaysia” (UNICEF and UNFPA, 2020). This report covers a sample size of 500 families in 16 low cost apartments in Kuala Lumpur and looked at the linkage between poverty and depression.

Depression During Covid-19 Hits The Poor Harder
Source: Today Online

One in five head of households describes themselves as depressed or experiencing extremely unstable emotions during the period of the Movement Control Order (MCO). This number is higher for head of households led by females.

The struggle is real

1 out of 3 female head of households reports that the main worry that has been on their mind is having insufficient money to feed their children. This is not surprising as usually a mother’s instinct is as a caregiver to their children first before fulfilling their own needs.

Children in low cost flats

New negative behavioural changes

According to the report, 3 in 10 households headed by females are experiencing new negative behaviours that have previously not been observed prior to the lockdown. This includes increased tensions in the family, higher depression symptoms and increase in tobacco use.

Mental health hits the vulnerable harder

The effects of depression and mental health hits females, rural and the poor harder. According to the National Health and Morbidity Survey 2019[2], these demographics has a higher prevalence of depression including those that are single and who are divorced/widowed.

Out of the estimated number of depressed Malaysians,

79% are from the B40 community, 17% from the M40 and 4% from the T20.

Consult a doctor

Malaysia’s Ministry of Health suggests that if you have the following symptoms, to contact a professional:

  • depressed mood
  • loss of interest & enjoyment
  • reduced concentration
  • reduced self-esteem
  • ideas of self-harm/suicide
  • disturbed sleep and appetite

There are cheaper/free mental health providers out there

The cost of mental therapy is said to be expensive and only for the urban, but it is not entirely true. Here are a list of providers who provide mental health services ranging from free to below RM100.

  • Mercy Malaysia helpline
  • Befrienders – providing emotional support 24/7 through their helpline and centres.
  • Malaysian Mental Health Association (MMHA) – services starting at RM50
  • Mentari – a community mental health centre initiated by the Ministry of Health, Malaysia
  • Lifeline Association Malaysia – offers free consultation service face-to-face, over the phone or email.
  • SOLS Health – provide financial assistance to eligible clients who need professional mental health services
  • Relate Malaysia – starting at RM45 for a 50-minute psychotherapy session with an intern. Special 95% discount for session for frontliners.
  • Cara Cara Mental Fitness – therapy starting from RM80
  • Life Line Association Malaysia – NGO focusing on mental health – focusing on Mandarin speakers. 辅导组由一群受过专业培训的义工,透过电话、电邮或面谈,聆听大众倾诉各种生活议题。
  • SNEHAM Malaysia – an NGO focusing on suicide prevention, focusing on Tamil speakers. சிநேகம் – தற்கதற்கொலைகளை தடுக்கும் ஹெல்ப்ன்லைன்
  • Tenaganita – Provides information, advice, and counselling to refugees, migrant and domestic workers, women and children in crisis, and victims of human trafficking.
  • UNHCR – Provides hotline services for refugees and asylum seekers in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. This hotline is available daily from 7am to 10pm.

Contact us to improve on this list!

Explore our sources:

  1. UNICEF Malaysia and UNFPA. (2020). Families on the Edge. Mixed methods longitudinal research on the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on women and children in lower income families. Issue 2. Link.
  2. Institute for Public Health. (2020). National Health and Morbidity Survey (NHMS) 2019: Non-communicable diseases, healthcare demand, and health literacy—Key Findings. Link.

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