This Pandemic Has Had Major Effect On Mental Health. These Experts Are Ready To Help

Seek help if your mental health is affected

  • Wednesday, 25 March 2020
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This Pandemic Has Had Major Effect On Mental Health. These Experts Are Ready To Help

Help is just one phone call away.

This COVID-19 crisis has been tough on all of us, more some than the others. 

From panic buying and rushing to balik kampung when the Movement Control Order (MCO) was announced, to angrier-than-usual comments left on social media posts and even face to face, many are struggling to make sense of the going-ons around us. 

People are bored and worried, not just about their health and those of their loved ones, but also their livelihood considering that businesses were forced to close and some companies have asked them to go on unpaid leave. 

These and so many other concern have been running in all our heads and sometimes it gets overwhelming. That's okay.

Lucky for us, there are professionals we can reach out to.

Help is just one Google search away

Mentalogue, a website that aims to increase accessibility to quality mental healthcare for Malaysians, have come up with a COVID-19 Crisis Counselling page with a list of mental health professional you can call, text or, in dire cases, meet to help you through the crisis. 

Its co-founder, Clarrise Ng, told Rojak Daily that the whole idea for the COVID-19 crisis counselling page came when she was talking to a friend who was feeling very anxious about the whole thing. 

"The rate for this kind of services are also pretty high. We did recommend a rate for the (providers) and said they can offer pro bono services as well.

"If you have financial difficulties, you can ask for lower rates, as well. We have seen this being done before," she said. 

Take care of yourself
As for Mentalogue itself, Ng said that it came from her own experience of trying to find reliable and affordable mental healthcare in Malaysia. 

"The vision would be that anyone in need of a mental health provider would be able to find one within minutes of searching," she told us, adding that the website is still under beta testing and mental health professionals can request to be listed on the site.

If you wish to seek help, you can contact any of the mental healthcare providers on the list.

Prices are reasonable

The prices are pretty reasonable, with the range for voice/video calls being between RM35 and RM100 for 30 minute sessions, RM25 to RM50 for texts, and RM50 to RM150 for a face-to-face session.

There's even one provider willing to help for free but if you can afford to pay, perhaps it is best to leave her time free for those who really need help but can't afford to pay for it.

You don't have to worry about the credentials of the providers as Mentalogue only lists them on their website after checking if they have a valid license with Lembaga Kaunseling Malaysia. 

One of the counsellors providing the service, Evelyn Emily Lee Wei Ying, told us that she's willing to help anyone, not just those infected with COVID-19, during these difficult times. 

"If someone is panicking or feeling stressed about their could be because they are unable to go back to their hometowns, having financial difficulties, they can call us," she said. 

Lee said that the first thing a counselor will do is empathise and validate the patients' feelings, before helping them calm down and find solution. 

For this, she said she often uses the 'grounding technique'. She walks through the person she's talking to through the steps, which often involves them to use their five senses to feel more grounded.

This could involve many actions such as picking up or touching objects around you, listening to certain sounds or music, breathing deeply, savoring food or drinks, moving the body and many more. 

If you need to or are curious about the grounding technique, you can read more about in this Healthline article

If you're planning on getting in touch with Lee, try to do it after noon, as she works night shift and only gets to sleep around 7 a.m.

Another counselor we spoke to, Dr Ling Sai Ang, said the calls she has received so far were mostly about worries over financial situations during the COVID-19 outbreak, as they cannot work for two weeks at least.

"Some call in panic and say they cannot breathe and things like that. Some talk about financial situations, some about getting sick and not being able to take care of their loved ones...all the issues are related to the problem of not being in control," she said. 

Dr Ling added that besides listening, problem solving is a huge part of what she does. 

"Sometimes, I can talk through the issue with them till they are calm. But without problem solving, it would be very temporary," she said. 

She added that having someone to talk to is very important, even when you can't meet.

"Just pick up the phone and call someone. Don't isolate yourself. The more you do, the more you'll feel helpless," she said. 

Don't forget to check on each otherDr. Ling, who is quite adept at offering help through phones and texts because of her experience working for Befrienders years ago, is offering her services for free. 

"I'm offering my services for free because I realise that not everyone has the luxuries that I do. A lot of people are not as luck as you and I, who can work from home. 

"It doesn't take up a lot of my time, anyway and I get to contribute in my own way," she said. 

Both the healthcare professionals said that while it's important to reach out to friends and family, as well as follow some of the advices by professionals on the internet, every case is different. 

Each of us have a different perspective and ways of handling a situation, and as such it is best to call a professional for help when you need to.

You can find a list of mental healthcare professionals here and choose the one who suit your needs best. 

Other resources

There are more than one resources out there for those with mental health issues. Here are some important numbers to note in case you need it in the future. 

Suicide hotline Befrienders: 603-76272929/

Malaysian Mental Health Association: 03-2780 6803/ Facebook

Buddy Bear Helpline (for children and teenagers): 1800182327/ / Facebook

Pusat Kesihatan Mental Masyarakat (MENTARI):
Talian-Mentari-01.jpgLet us all take care of our mental health as well as our physical health. 
Stay safe out there, you guys.

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