Mental Health In Malaysia During The Movement Control Order (MCO)

mental health malaysia

Mental health issues are still taboo in our country, many still take it easy and relate it to a lack of religious education. We definitely understand the importance of religion in our lives and its implications on one’s socioemotional well-being. We also stress the importance of practical approaches to dealing with mental health issues, as people deeply affected by these issues would require interventions readily available for them out there. It can be seen that the most common causes for most suicide cases were issues related to their emotional wellbeing, family problems, and financial troubles. The surge in suicide cases is very evident, especially after the prolonged lockdown rule was imposed in Malaysia because of the COVID-19 pandemic. This is because many people were laid off from their jobs and students received extreme pressure from their education. Because of social distancing and the lockdown rule being imposed, many lost their social support and were feeling depressed because they cannot share their problems with anyone that is close to them. This made them feel extremely pressured and affected their mental health severely. 

Suicide Cases Statistics in Malaysia (2020 – 2021)

mental health malaysia

According to The Centre, the respondents aged 18 to 34 have reported that their mental health is worsening in 2021. Dr Rashed Mustafa Sarwar, UNICEF Representative to Malaysia and Special Representative to Brunei Darussalam has released a statement that lengthened lockdown has caused social isolation among young people in Malaysia which might have contributed to the increase in suicide cases. In the statistics released by Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, the health director-general, 336 suicide cases were reported between January to March 2021. Not only that, 468 suicide cases were recorded in Malaysia between January to May 2021 with most of them were between the age of 15 to 18 years old. In a study done by University Malaya, a persistent increase was seen in the symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress among 1163 participants during the movement control orders (MCO) implemented in Malaysia. It was found in the study 59.2%, the highest rate of depressive and anxiety symptoms were recorded in August 2020 itself. 

In a statement released by the Malaysia Mental Health Association (MMHA), it was said that the number of people seeking stress-related help has increased 2x in 2020 as compared to 2019. By the end of 2020, Befrienders has reported that one in every three calls that they receive daily is related to suicide, which is higher if compared to one in every 10 calls daily in 2018. The psychosocial hotline implemented by the government has recorded 37, 709 calls from April to September 2020, with most of it being calls related to emotional distress worsening because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Movement Control Order. The statistics show an alarming rise in the deterioration of mental health among Malaysians, which was mainly because of the prolonged implementation of the Movement Control Order due to the pandemic. These statistics are not random faceless people or made up numbers by the officials. This is the fact that is happening in many families around us.

How To Cope With Movement Control Order

mental health malaysia

That is why we need to check on our loved ones often to help them in any way we can. There are ways you can show your support to them. For example, you do conference calls through WhatsApp or can even video call your friends and families to check on them. Because you are investing your time in their lives and it is probably here where you might get the chance to listen as well. Not only that but cuddling with your partner will also help with their anxious feelings. This is because cuddling releases oxytocin, which relaxes us and also helps to strengthen the relationship. You do not need to go out of your way and do extreme things to show your loved ones you care about them. Just being there for them in any way you can provide the support that they need from you. 

If you are going through any form of mental health problems, even such as being stressed from your work or assignments, you can try contacting a hotline that is available to provide you with social support. If you or anyone that is close to you is going through any mild or severe mental health problems, you can always get help from people that will help you overcome them. You can contact these services for any form of support for your mental health wellbeing. 

Mental Health Psychosocial Support Service: 03-2935 9935 │014-322 3392 

Talian Kasih: 15999 │ 019 – 261 5999 (WhatsApp)

Jakim’s Family, Social and Community care centre: 0111-959 8214)

Befrienders Kuala Lumpur: 03 – 7627 2929 or visit the website for a full list of numbers and operating hours

Mental Health Matters


Let us try being open about our mental health wellbeing. We should work together to break down the judgemental walls when it comes to openly discussing mental health problems. This will be a huge help for those that want to seek help in regard to their mental health but are worried about being judged for it. Most times, especially for men, it is said that being vulnerable is a weakness and we should not be weak, no matter how hard it is for us. However, that is not true. A statement like this can cause people to further move into their shells because they will believe openly sharing their mental health issues will portray them as being weak. We should create more mental health awareness in Malaysia.

Mental health care needs to start at the community level and needs to be taken seriously. This is why we need to have more trained psychologists available. To make it happen, the government needs to give more recognition to the field of psychology and mental health by providing scholarships and research grants to cope with and reduce mental health problems in the community. The ability to have someone to listen and speak to with no fear of persecution and judgement is crucial in creating awareness and opening the doors to the benefit of professional mental health services.

You can click here for more mental health services and benevolent organizations available in Malaysia.

Shasvini Murali
Shasvini Murali
A Food Loving and Book Reading Type of Person.







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