November 5, 2020
PETALING JAYA: Of the 500,000 Malaysians reported to suffer from depression in the 2019 National Health and Morbidity Survey, 108,919 were young Malaysians, according to Befrienders KL.

They were between 15 and 24 years old, Befrienders publicity director Ardy Ayadali told FMT.

He also said those aged 28 and below made up 33% of the distress calls Befrienders received last year.

Referring to the current situation, Ardy said older people were experiencing emotional distress because they were working from home or had suffered loss of income.

However, he added, youths were more likely to get depression from the stress of academic and social struggles.

“But the causes of depression are complex,” he said. “In youths, these can include low self-esteem and poor interpersonal skills, which cause them to struggle with relationships with friends and family.”

He said family support played a key role in improving the younger generation’s well-being and he recommended that schools incorporate the topics of self-care, mental health issues and stress-coping skills into the syllabus.

Sheila Menon, principal of the London College of Clinical Hypnosis Asia, said a young person’s family had the biggest influence on his mental health.

She said the absence of happiness in the home meant children did not have a safe space to explore their emotions, adding that the rate of suicidal thoughts among youths had increased from 7.9% to 10% in recent years.

“The young person may feel neglected and isolated and develop poor trust with the people closest to him or her,” she said. “Sometimes young people may feel guilty for conflicts at home and get depressed because they don’t know how to help.”

Sheila said the lack of a stable home environment would push youths to stay out late, spend more time with friends or experiment with alcohol and other substances as a coping mechanism.

She said hypnotherapy was one of the most effective tools for the prevention of depressive episodes, adding that the health ministry had included hypnosis as a treatment to treat major depressive disorder in the 2019 Clinical Practice Guidelines.

“One misconception is that hypnosis makes you do things you don’t want to do, but people actually remain fully in control,” she said.

“Clinical hypnosis helps patients regain and utilise a positive focus, which is often lost during depression. It can reverse the defeatist attitude and help break patterns of negative thinking.”

She suggested that parents join in during therapy sessions to learn how they could best support their children who might be embarrassed to talk about their problems.