Battle in Malaysia, Thailand to stay healthy mentally amid the Covid-19 pandemic

Mental health conditions have worsened during the coronavirus pandemic.
Mental health conditions have worsened during the coronavirus pandemic.PHOTOS: REUTERS, ST FILE, WILAYAHKU

Mental health conditions have worsened during the coronavirus pandemic, as people struggle with anxiety, loss of loved ones and lockdown isolation. The Straits Times examines the situation in Malaysia and Thailand, and speaks to those who are battling to get better.


As Covid-19 cases surge in Thailand, more seek help to deal with mental load

Tammy (not her real name) has been counting down the days to the end of her 14-day quarantine. She finds herself unable to eat or sleep and, more often than not, feels stressed out.

Five of her 10 household members have come down with Covid-19, including her 72-year-old mother, who is severely ill. The rest who do not have the virus, like Tammy, 26, have been in isolation for the past week.

During their daily video calls, Tammy can hear her mother's laboured breathing as she lies in her hospital bed, hooked up to a ventilator. It hurts her to speak, so they don't say much.

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Covid-19 lockdown sees rising mental health concerns among teens in Malaysia

While the coronavirus pandemic has caused new mental health issues among some people in Malaysia due to the lengthy lockdowns, pre-existing conditions in others have also become worse, and young people and children are no exception.

A teenager told The Straits Times that cabin fever resulting from being indoors for too long and online learning have exacerbated her feelings of being overwhelmed.

"I am not able to get away from my parents when they argue. They argue a lot, especially when the lockdown first started, and honestly, they still struggle to get along," said the 17-year-old teenager, who asked not to be named.

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Malaysia opens first charity hotel offering meals, beds, counselling and Covid-19 jabs

Malaysia's first charity hotel has opened in Kuala Lumpur, providing meals, beds, counselling services and Covid-19 vaccines to those hard hit by the pandemic.

The 600-room Rumah Prihatin @ Grand Seasons - "rumah prihatin" means caring house - occupies the premises of the former Grand Seasons Hotel which closed two years ago.

The charity hotel's chefs, who used to serve large banquets, now run a soup kitchen for the poor as well as front-liners. It has served about 15,000 food packs since the hotel opened on July 15.

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Getting help

National Care Hotline: 1800-202-6868 (8am - 12am)

Mental well-being

Fei Yue’s Online Counselling Service: eC2.sg website (Mon to Fri, 10am to 12pm, 2pm to 5pm)
Institute of Mental Health’s Mental Health Helpline: 6389-2222 (24 hours)
Samaritans of Singapore: 1800-221-4444 (24 hours) /1-767 (24 hours)
Singapore Association for Mental Health: 1800-283-7019 (Mon to Fri, 9am to 6pm) 
Silver Ribbon Singapore: 6386-1928/6509-0271  (Mon to Fri, 9am to 6pm)
Tinkle Friend: 1800-274-4788 (Mon to Fri, 2.30pm to 5pm)/ Tinkle Friend website (Mon to Thu, 2.30pm to 7pm and Fri, 2.30pm to 5pm)

Counselling

TOUCHline (Counselling): 1800-377-2252  (Mon to Fri, 9am to 6pm)
Care Corner Counselling Centre (Mandarin): 1800-353-5800 (Daily, 10am to 10pm)