Mental health alert for children in Malaysia
As Malaysia enters Total Lockdown on the 1st of June, we need to support children and adolescents as they make their way through an uncertainty and isolation.
It has been widely reported that according to police statistics, there were 266 cases of suicides and deaths between March 18 and October 30 of 2020. Of the cases reported, one in four was committed by teenagers aged between 15 and 18.
With schools and public spaces closed, children are urged to stay at home away from friends and loved ones. They may even be stuck at home with an abuser. The resulting impact on children’s mental health and well-being is significant. Children are left feeling afraid, lonely, anxious, and even hopeless about their future.
This lockdown is important to put a stop to the COVID-19 pandemic. But we must emerge from this pandemic with a better approach to child and adolescent mental health.
Malaysia must invest in expanded mental health services and support for young people and their caregivers in schools and communities. We also need to scale-up our support to parents so that children from vulnerable homes get the support and protection they need at home.
Parenting during COVID-19 has brought new challenges and opportunities. Together with partners, UNICEF has produced parenting resources that are available for free, to support parents during this difficult time: https://www.unicef.org/malaysia/parenting-resources
UNICEF and WHO has also produced a Helping Adolescents Thrive toolkit that focuses on the promotion of mental well-being among adolescents and the prevention of mental health conditions. It provides programmatic guidance for people working in the health, social services, education and justice sectors on how to implement mental health promotive and preventive interventions that are appropriate to local needs and the contexts where adolescents live: https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/9789240025554
Police stat: https://www.thestar.com.my/news/education/2021/04/04/youth-suicide
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org.