PETALING JAYA: The low-income B40 community cannot afford mental health support, despite being one of the biggest groups that suffer from mental health issues, say experts.
“The pandemic has significantly shifted income brackets, particularly in urban populations making mental healthcare resources even less affordable,” said Vinorra Shaker, lecturer and Head of the psychology programme at Veritas University College.
Citing the 2019 national health and morbidity survey, she said that 79% of Malaysians who suffer from depression are from the B40 community with children experiencing the highest prevalence of mental health problems at 8.8%.
She urged the government to provide bursaries and financial assistance for mental health professionals to assist B40 groups to manage depression, lowering the risk of suicide within the community.
Clinical psychologist and founder of Relate Malaysia, Chua Sook Ning, proposed a comprehensive needs assessment to address the knowledge and service gaps within this community.
“This will help design a more efficient and effective system that can meet the actual and diverse needs of the B40 group,” she said.
Sharrada Segeran, director of Mind Matters Network Malaysia pointed out that demand for treatment is greater than the number of available mental health professionals.
“New models of care need to be incorporated into the mental healthcare system, especially to treat disadvantaged youths,” she said.
“The government should provide teachers with psychological first aid training, allowing them to identify and refer youths to mental health professionals for further evaluation if necessary.”