Ministry Moots Extension Of Mental Health Programme To Private Tv Stations Print Media
The Communications and Multimedia Ministry plans to extend a programme on mental health to the local private television stations and print media, says its minister Saifuddin Abdullah.
This is following the Radio Televisyen Malaysia (RTM)-produced programme on mental health broadcast via its ‘Selamat Pagi Malaysia’ slot since last June 1 in channelling support to the people, having viewed by 1.5 million to 1.9 million people.
Saifuddin said the programme outlined three objectives, namely, increasing public understanding of mental health and its importance, avoiding social stigma against individuals facing mental health problems and informing the public on the assistance available.
"This mental health programme will continue on RTM but we will discuss with the private television stations if they are interested to run such a programme.
"We are also looking at how this programme could be extended to the print media using other languages other than Malay if there is a need for it.”
Saifuddin said this at a virtual media conference today after chairing the Mental Health Support Communication Plan Coordination Meeting. The Mental Health Support Communication Plan Team was formed in April involving various ministries and agencies to assist individuals impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.
He said the mental health programme on RTM was interactive to enable viewers to call in for assistance and to ask questions.
"This programme has received good response as it has speakers from various backgrounds and fields of expertise who share tips on managing mental health, psychological pressure, anxiety, job loss and unemployment, communication and social problems faced by children and adults, as well as work pressure, especially during the current depressing time,” he added
The programme involves collaboration among Saifuddin’s ministry, the Health Ministry; Women, Family and Community Development Ministry; the Malaysian Board of Counsellors and several higher learning institutions and non-governmental organisations.
Saifuddin said the government noted that an increasing number of people in this country were facing mental health problems and depression due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
"There are those who are worried sick over the impact of the pandemic and movement control or facing social isolation while others are depressed about being jobless or facing problems like domestic violence or home teaching and learning (PdPR) constraints,” he said.
Asked about the viral videos and photos of suicides on social media, Saifuddin said his ministry viewed this trend seriously and was cooperating with the police in monitoring the situation.
He said the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission would be informing the social media service providers that such uploaded videos be removed from their platforms.
Meanwhile, Dr Nurashikin Ibrahim, a public health expert at the Health Ministry’s Mental Health Unit under the Disease Control Division, said the ministry’s psychosocial support hotline had existed since March last year to assist those impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.
She said that there had been a three-fold increase in the number of calls received this year compared to the 44,061 received last year, with 40 percent of the calls coming from those who had lost their source of income.
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