A mental health awareness website established in 2017 by a professor of psychiatry at the International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) is proving timely for helping people through the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Psychiatric illnesses such as depression and anxiety have been consistently on the rise in Malaysia over the past 20 years,” says IIUM consultant psychiatrist Ramli Musa.
“Nevertheless, awareness about mental health issues is still low and treatment is often delayed due to the stigma attached in Malaysian society.”
To address this, Musa established a user-friendly website that offers reading materials in Malay and English, providing guidance on how, where and when to find mental health treatment in Malaysia, in addition to information about the symptoms of diseases like depression and anxiety.
The website also offers online questionnaires that can help people assess their levels of depression, anxiety or stress. “Psychological stress and depression have significantly increased during the COVID-19 pandemic, worldwide and in Malaysia,” says Musa. “Since the virus is easily transmitted, there is more need for online psychological assessments and interventions in order to minimize person-to-person contact.”
Musa also devised the Asian Family Characteristics Scale that helps assess a family’s dynamics, including how they handle conflict, levels of internal harmony, and how traditional a family is. The scale has been translated into Thai and Indonesian languages and takes into account the unique aspects of Asian family values, overcoming issues often found with other scales specifically designed for Western cultures.Online consultations are also provided upon request, while a public forum offers space for people to post questions they have about mental health.
The website can be found at www.ramlimusa.com