In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of those encountering mental health issues has been increasing globally including in Brunei Darussalam. The BruHIMS records used by clinics and government hospitals showed some 3,000 new cases of ‘mood disorder’ including depression and bipolar disorder among the people in the country.
The Ministry of Health (MoH) through the Health Promotion Centre (HPC) along with the Community Psychology Division organised a forum titled ‘Women – An Investment for Better Mental Health’ in conjunction with World Mental Health Day 2020. The forum served as medium to increase awareness on the importance of mental health while reducing the negative stigma among the community, especially women. The forum was held at Ruang of the Yayasan Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Complex.
Legislative Council (LegCo) member Yang Berhormat Nik Hafimi binti Abdul Haadii was the guest of honour. LegCo members Yang Berhormat Siti Rozaimeriyanty binti Dato Seri Laila Jasa Haji Abdul Rahman and Yang Berhormat Khairunnisa binti Haji Ash’ari were also present.
Yang Berhormat Nik Hafimi said the situation faced during the COVID-19 pandemic not only impacted physical health of millions of people around the world, but also brought about several other challenges.
She gave examples such as frontliners providing treatment even in difficult and risky situations as well as being away from the family, while students needing to adapt to online classes with limited interaction with their teachers and peers.
“Some workers felt insecure in their jobs. Many women felt unsafe during the lockdown and were being exposed to domestic violence.
“These challenges impact the quality of mental health and this can be seen with the increase in anxiety, depression and social dismissal reported around the world.
“Alhamdulillah COVID-19 in our country was managed successfully.
“Even though we are facing challenges, we can still inculcate patience while supporting each other.”
A forum on mental health was also discussed by four panellists – Psychology Specialist Hani Haryana binti Haji Maidin from the Psychology Clinical Division discussed ‘Investment on Women’s Mental Health – Is it worth it?’; motivational speaker and author from the State Mufti’s Office Ustazah Sharifah Khadijah binti Hussein Alkaff shared her thoughts on ‘Islamic Perspective on Building Women’s Resilience’ ; Progresif Sdn Bhd CEO Hajah Nurul Haniah binti Haji Md Jaafar shared on ‘Keeping the Balance: Work and Mental Health’; and social media influencer Hajah Ajeeratul binti Pehin Orang Kaya Hamzah Pahlawan Dato Seri Setia Haji Abdullah elaborating on ‘A Personal Journey on Hope, Resilience and Recovery’.
The MoH advised those with mental health issues to seek treatment from mental health specialists or experts by contacting Talian Harapan 145 or medical doctors at the nearest health clinics.