We are touched by CodeBlue’s efforts to be mindful of our government colleagues’ mental health by conducting a survey on mental health wellbeing among government staff.
Globally, mental health has deteriorated during the Covid-19 pandemic. In Malaysia, the easing of restrictions improved some aspects of the social stressors affecting our mental health, but our health care professionals, especially junior doctors, pharmacists, dentists, and nurses continue to suffer.
The gravity of the situation is evident in the reported cases of three Ministry of Health (MOH) staff suicides at this point in the year alone. These tragic incidents highlight the pressing need for immediate action.
Working in the health care field can be extremely demanding, both emotionally and physically. Health care workers tirelessly prioritise and care for their patients while trying to strike a balance between their personal and professional lives.
The challenges of being separated from family and dear ones when they are sent to another state, uprooted with only a few days’ notice sometimes, coupled with extended working hours and limited support, in addition to the physically and mentally demanding nature of the job, can weigh heavily on health care professionals.
The feeling of uncertainty due to the precarious employment situation within the MOH also has a detrimental effect. Even though we acknowledge the efforts of the MOH and the achievements of both past and current health ministers in increasing the number of permanent spots, unfortunately our health care colleagues continue to suffer from distress regarding the situation.
As we maintain optimism for a lasting resolution, TeleHope Health is committed to making a meaningful contribution. We do so by providing solutions that bridge gaps and offering straightforward yet effective choices that are readily available.
We believe that through initiatives such as the FWD Mind Strength Support Programme, we are able to lend a hand to those who require it the most — our dedicated health care professionals.
This initiative brought forth by FWD Takaful in partnership with Doctor Anywhere as their key health care provider, was initiated with the purpose of bringing confidential and secure mental health guidance and support to all Malaysians.
We all know that effective support for mental health sufferers necessitates an ongoing process, rather than a one-time counselling session to fix the problem. Understanding this need, the programme provides each person with access to five sponsored telecounselling sessions.
We have heard from our government colleagues that they are hesitant to seek help within governmental institutions due to concerns regarding privacy, especially with a sensitive issue like mental health, and especially because specialisation programmes in Malaysia are still asking their applicants if they were diagnosed with a mental health condition.
We are also hoping this programme will allow our colleagues to seek help outside of their working hours and will not require them to take time off their important work of helping fellow Malaysians.
While this programme does not solve the myriad of issues plaguing our health care colleagues, we are hoping to provide some psychological tools for our colleagues to improve their mental health while dealing with situations that are beyond their control.
Dr Aw Tsung Wai is a consultation and liaison psychiatrist and chief mental health officer at TeleHope Health.
- This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of CodeBlue.