Mco, Covid-19 Watch, Befrienders, Suicide, Movement Control Order, Mental Health, Covid-19

Mco, Covid-19 Watch

On the brighter side of empty streets

Here's how you can help people during this #MCO period. Read more here:

5/4/2020 4:43:00 PM

Here's how you can help people during this MCO period. Read more here:

The Covid-19 pandemic may have left some feeling worried and even gloomy about things. But it’s also a time we can choose to be closer to family, friends, religion, or simply, be grateful for staying alive, say experts.

THESE are tough times, and we must stay at home until things improve.But it is only human for people to worry about what lies ahead.Befrienders KL received a 13% increase in the number of calls for emotional help in the first week of the movement control order (MCO).

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Of this, 9% were related to Covid-19 and the MCO, according to news reports.Such calls continued to rise over the past week, the second week since the order was enforced.“We had an increase from eight to 12 calls a day on such issues,” Befrienders KL publicity director Ardy Ayadali tells Sunday Star.

“Most callers were worried about the situation and felt out of control of their lives,’’ he says.CLICK TO ENLARGEBut if you find yourself feeling worried and anxious too, firstly know that it is very normal to feel this way, assures HELP University senior lecturer and clinical psychologist Evone Phoo.

“This is a very novel and stressful situation, with many uncertainties revolving around our health, work, studies, financial state, and the people that we care about.“Try to understand the things that are within your control, and the things that are not.

“For example, you will not be able to stop the outbreak; but you can help keep yourself and people around you safe by doing your part during this MCO,” she says.Even as things get tough, this can also be a time for us to be closer to our family, see the positive side of situations and ultimately, be grateful for staying alive.

“As long as there is uncertainty surrounding Covid-19, there will be anxiety – the persistent fear of the unknown,” says Malaysian Mental Health Association president Prof Datuk Dr Andrew Mohanraj.“Some people become more philosophical and spiritual, leading to the realisation that humankind can be humbled by a mere virus,” he adds.

Such introspection can also lead to seeing the bright side of things and gratitude for staying alive.“These paradigms might help people cope with the restrictions in the MCO,” he adds.Dr Andrew says this is also the time to mend relationships.“Family members can also get closer to face the situation together.

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“It is quite a paradox, but real connections with others can happen during these difficult times,” he says.A friend in needFor Befrienders KL, its centre in Petaling Jaya initially had to stop its service as it did not get an extension to operate beyond the second phase of MCO.

But they have moved their helpline to Skype starting April 1 and since then, they have been supporting the public through voice calls on the app.“We have continued to receive a high volume of emails for the past few months. However, a small percentage (2%) were Covid-19 and MCO related,” Ardy says.

He says the drastic changes that happened also increased anxiety, as people struggled to adapt to the rules.As for callers with suicidal thoughts, Ardy says Befrienders has always received such calls and offers support to them.But he admits that the risk is higher now with the current developments.

“The immediate concern would be those who are suffering from mental health illnesses and are on medication or seeing their psychiatrists or therapists.“With the MCO, they are unable to do so,” he says.But support is always available, and Ardy urges those who feel distressed or anxious to reach out to Befrienders, which still operates 24 hours a day.

Those who wish to contact Befrienders KL can reach them through their Skype IDs, “BefKL Skype 1” or “BefKL Skype 2”.Both of its helplines (03-79568144 / 5) will not be available until the MCO is lifted.“We are currently looking for ways to make befriending via phone available again with the help from our tech partner and TM, so that we are reachable to more people,” Ardy adds.

Staying strongTo stay healthy physically and mentally, Dr Andrew advises people to regain control of their lives by mimicking normalcy as much as possible during the MCO.“Maintaining good sleep is important.“Avoid taking long naps during the day, excessive screen time before sleeping and alcohol intake,” he says.

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Lack of exercise can also contribute to disturbed sleep.“Sleep deprivation can cause more stress and anxiety beside reducing the immune system, making us susceptible to illness,” he adds.And ultimately, our frontliners like medical workers need self-care too, Dr Andrew stresses.

“They must stay physically and emotionally fit to face the challenges that they do in these difficult times.“Health care workers are working overtime with heavy work schedules.“My advice to frontliner medical workers : Know your limits. Don’t push yourself at the expense of your own mental well being.

“Speak to your supervisor if you feel breakdown is imminent,” he urges.At a time when people feel they lack control over their lives, HELP University department of psychology head Elaine Fernandez advises the public to take some time to assess our personal situations and identify what we have control over in our day.

She recommends people to create routines involving work, exercise and online social activities.“Routines give us a sense of order which is crucial in times of uncertainty, but they need not be dull.“Finding ways to incorporate variety into our day can also help to stem some of the boredom and cabin fever that will inevitably arise,” Fernandez adds.

Overconsumption of news can also be a major source of anxiety in crisis situations, especially with the rise in “fake” or unverifiable news.“It’s also a good practice to check to see if a story is true before sharing with friends and family.“We all have a collective responsibility to ensure that we don’t cause additional stress to others by sharing things that could trigger anxiety responses, particularly if we have loved ones who are more vulnerable,” she says.

Try to cherish the little good moments that might come our way during this time too, advises Phoo.“We are not saying, “Be happy, don’t be worried, don’t be anxious!”“We are saying, “Yes, you would feel worried and anxious, and it is okay to feel this way.

“Now, let’s see how we can find ways to manage it,” she says.It is no doubt a challenging time and while the people tend to focus on crisis and suffering, Phoo says we should also turn to hope and recovery.“Many people are helping, many countries are doing their best in containing the virus, and know that we are all in this together.

“Our patience and sacrifice today will pay off when this finally passes; and when that happens, maybe we will look back, with relief, and find meaning in what we have been through,” she says. Read more: The Star »

Just let them to carry on. Simple.

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