KUALA LUMPUR: A total of 13.4 per cent of children and teenagers living in People’s Housing Projects (PPR) in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor, have thoughts of suicide or hurting themselves due to the pressures of life, according to a study.
The study conducted by the Institute For Health Behavioural Research and the Health Ministry (MOH) in collaboration with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) also found 12.3 per cent of this group have mental health problems such as depression and anxiety.
Deputy Health Minister Lukanisman Awang Sauni said the study on ‘Contributing Factors to Psychological Distress, Coping Strategies and Help-Seeking Behaviours among Adolescents Living in the Klang Valley’s People’s Housing Projects’ was conducted in 37 PPRs involving 1,578 children and teenagers aged between 10 and 17.
He said the factors contributing to mental health problems among children and teenagers include economic pressure, cramped living conditions and peer pressure.
“The findings of such studies allow the MOH and other agencies to work together to understand mental health problems among this group and identify strategic solutions to overcome the issues holistically.
“All parties must focus on mental health and play their respective roles in the mental well-being of the community. It’s everybody’s business,” he said after launching the Myhealthymind@PPR community programme and technical report of the study here today.
Elaborating, Lukanisman said the study’s qualitative findings also showed that most teenagers experiencing emotional problems deal with stress in unhealthy ways, such as by smoking and consuming illegal substances.
He said the study, to be presented at the Mental Health Promotion Advisory Council Meeting to be chaired by Health Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa on March 22, also suggested measures that need to be implemented through collaboration with various ministries, agencies and non-governmental bodies.
He further said that the MOH, through the Psychosocial Support Helpline, set up during the Covid-19 pandemic, received 308,445 calls between March 25, 2020 to Dec 31, 2022, of which 228,480 calls, or 72.2 per cent, were from those who needed emotional support and counselling due to chronic stress, depression and anxiety.
“The helpline service has been upgraded to the National Mental Health Crisis Line or HEAL Line 15555, which operates daily, including public holidays, from 8 am to midnight. The helpline is manned by MOH psychology counselling officers.
“The HEAL Line, operational since Oct 21, 2022, has received 8,904 calls, of which 97 callers had suicidal behaviour and attempted suicide, and of this, HEAL managed to save 51 cases of attempted suicide and referred them (callers) to hospitals,” he said. - Bernama