Mental health plays a very important role in general wellbeing and physical health. Poor mental health may affect non-communicable diseases like diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular diseases and cancer.1 Therefore, we should take care of both mental and physical wellbeing to stay healthy.
The theme of World Mental Health Day on October 10, 2021, “Mental Health in an Unequal World”, emphasises the importance of mental health for all, in enhancing mental health education, awareness and advocacy. 2
The Covid-19 pandemic has brought on social isolation due to lockdown restrictions. Even those who are staying together under one roof are quarantined, and the fear of getting infected is also widespread.
On the other hand, those infected with Covid-19 are anxious, and this has become even tougher for those who have lost their loved ones during the pandemic, especially families who lost their breadwinners. Frontline workers might also get burned out dealing with the overwhelming workload of treating Covid-19 patients. Mental health resilience is therefore very important.
According to the American Psychological Association (APA), psychologists defined mental health resilience as the process in dealiing with change, trauma, disaster, threats, or major sources of stress.3 Here are some ways to maintain mental health resilience: 3
- Build connections by prioritising personal and group relationships. It is crucial to talk to a trustworthy and understanding person who genuinely care for us, knowing that we are not alone in challenging time.
- Keeping well through self-care and practicing mindfulness. We have to take care of ourselves physically and mentally by choosing a healthier lifestyle and better emotional management, instead of choosing negative outlets that might harm ourselves.
- Finding purpose by acknowledging and accepting our emotions can give us an opportunity find ways out of the hardship we face. Move towards realistic goals to overcome the issues we face, and help others as well to get over similar situations.
- Embracing healthy thought. Reframing is important as we can choose to look at the bright side of life. This can help us to accept changes and grow stronger.
- Seeking help: It’s all right to be not okay. Seeking help is the right move to achieve a healthier mind and body. We are not alone in this, reach out to get supported.
In order to cope with mental health demands, the Sector of Mental Health, Substance Abuse, Violence and Injury Prevention (MeSVIPP), Non-Communicable Disease (NCD) Section, Disease Control Division, Ministry of Health has made Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Service (MHPSS) reachable to all.
Call the MHPSS numbers at 014-3223392, 011-63996482, 011-63994236 or 03-29359935, or click on https://tinyurl.com/MHPSShotlines. The agencies for food and transport assistance are at https://tinyurl.com/foodtransporthelp. For more information about mental health, feel free to visit the Minda Sihat website.4
- Patel, Vikram, & Chatterji, Somnath. (2015). Integrating Mental Health In Care For Noncommunicable Diseases: An Imperative For Person-Centered Care. Health Affairs, 34(9), 1498-1505. doi:10.1377/hlthaff.2015.0791
- World Health Organization (WHO). (2021). World Mental Health Day 2021
- American Psychological Association (APA). (2012). Building your resilience
- Ministry of Health Malaysia (MOH). (2021). Minda Sihat Kementerian Kesihatan Malaysia
Dr Yoong Lee Yeen and Prof Dr Moy Foong Ming are from the Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Malaya.
- This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of CodeBlue.