Pfizer Malaysia & Partners Launch Smart Mobile App for Mental Health

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Mental Health Awareness Campaign

 

By Dhivyan Silvaraj

 

Pfizer Malaysia and partners recently launched an app ‘Moodigo’   – A new smartphone app that heralds an innovative way for Malaysians to monitor their mental health. The mobile app launch coincided with the unveiling of “#EVERYBODY IS AT RISK” – a 2018 Community Awareness Campaign on Mental Health led by Pfizer Malaysia, in collaboration with Malaysia Psychiatric Association (MPA) & Malaysian Mental Health Association (MMHA).

 

On 18th of April 2018, along with the Mental Health Awareness Campaign 2018, Pfizer Malaysia unveiled the ‘Moodigo’ app which was first launched in Hong Kong few years ago. The launching ceremony took place in The Starling Mall in Uptown Damansara. Some of the notable guests present were Noor Yang Azwar Kamarudin, Director of Corporate Affairs, Pfizer Malaysia,  Associate Proffesor Dr Ng Chong Guan, Vice President of Malaysian Mental Health Association (MMHA). Dr Hazli Zakaria, Vice President of Malaysia Psychiatric Association (MPA) and also Ms Lim Chae Hong, an ex-patient who also joined the forum.

 

According to the National Health and Morbidity Survey (2015), 29.2 per cent of Malaysian adults suffer from mental illness[1], a 142 per cent jump as compared to 2011.  By 2020, mental illness is expected to be the second biggest health problem affecting Malaysians[2] after heart disease, further illustrating the gravity of the situation.  Among the most common mental illnesses in Malaysia include depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Sadly, there is still a strong social stigma associated with mental illness from a cultural stand-point shaped by superstitious belief and misconception.  Mental Illness affects people from all walks of life, regardless of age, gender, economic status, or ethnicity.

 

To address today’s mental health issues and challenges, there was an interactive forum comprising leading mental health experts Dr Hazli Zakaria, Consultant Psychiatrist (Hospital Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia) and Vice President of Malaysia Psychiatric Association (MPA), Associate Professor Dr Ng Chong Guan, Consultant Psychiatrist (Universiti Malaya Specialist Centre) and Vice President of Malaysia Mental Health Association (MMHA) as well as a mental health patient and caregiver.

 

The most exciting part of the event was a sketch – “Cupcakes – De-stigmatizing mental illness” by the acclaimed Instant Café Theatre which explored just how little Malaysians know about Mental Health.   Apart from a ‘Mandala Art Painting’, there were Mental Health Info-Kiosks and Interactive Activities for the public to learn about major types of mental disorders and how to identify them. The other attractions of the event apart from the launch included the Doctor and Patient Forum: Living with Depression/Anxiety: A misunderstood and Stigmatized Illnes and also the Mental Health Awareness Showcase.

 

In many ways, mental health is just like physical health: everybody has it, and we need to take care of it. It is estimated that one in four or five of us will experience some mental health issues in our lifetime. For that reason, it is important to understand the basic facts of mental health, be able to recognize the  signs and understand the type of mental health problems.

 

One of the famous myths surrounding mental health  is that women are more prone to suffer from it compared to men but according to Dr. Hazli Zakaria,  Vice president, Malaysia Psychiatric Association, that is far from the truth. Most of the cases reported and recorded are indeed from women but not because men are not vulnerable to mental health issues but because they tend to hide the problems that they are having and instead of seeking for help, men starts to have other addictions such as drinking or drugs to try and run away from the real mental health issues they are facing. Indeed, different mental illness would affect genders differently but nevertheless, the proneness is almost the same.

 

According to Associate Professor Dr Ng Chong Guan, Vice president, Malaysian Mental Health Association, there had been a change of a pattern in the early signs of patients suffering from mental illness, as in the past, patients would be coming in with physical symptoms of mental illness whereby now, it would be more to physiological symptoms. The physiological symptoms refer to patients being moodier compared to usual and more sensitive to their surroundings. Even though the signs might be as clear as daylight, patients usually tend to ignore it and think it is actually due to lack of rest or even the stress from work.

 

The knowledge of the public to differentiate the difference between stress and depression are still considered very low as there is only a very thin line between the two.  Dr. Hazli suggested if you would like to run a test on yourself whether you are just stressed or actually depressed, you can take a few days off from work and go for a vacation and if you are still feeling low and unable to enjoy yourself, you are most certainly facing depression but you also have to keep in mind that if you think you are facing pressure, not knowing from stress or depression, stop questioning yourself and take a proper assessment.

 

One of the biggest mistakes of people living with depression is thinking that if they go to sleep; things will be better when they wake up. It may be true for certain conditions,  but for the case of depression, it is a big NO. The only way to fight depression is to find the root cause and change the situation you are in.  For example, if you find out your depression is caused mainly by your working place,  you have to change it immediately according to Associate Professor Dr. Ng.

 

Finally, if you know anyone who is facing depression, please avoid giving advice but instead just listen and you will know better about the situation they are in.  Dr. Hazli said that most of us tend to give advice such as “You should eat better” or “You should go out for a walk” but that would actually build a wall between you and the person who is facing depression as he/she would feel you not only do not understand but actually not listening. We should all remember, people who are facing depression could find themselves very weak and not having the appetite to eat.  Therefore, instead of asking them to do something, we should just listen.  Everyone is actually at risk of having a mental health problem. Things should never be taken lightly when there is someone that needs help.

 

Among the most common mental illnesses in Malaysia include depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Sadly, there is still a strong social stigma associated with mental illness from a cultural stand-point shaped by superstitious belief and misconception. Mental Illness affects people from all walks of life, regardless of age, gender, economic status, or ethnicity.

 

The other attractions of the event apart from the launch included the Doctor and Patient Forum: Living with Depression/Anxiety: A misunderstood and Stigmatized Illness, a sketch – “Cupcakes – De-stigmatizing mental illness” and also the Mental Health Awareness Showcase.

 

After the official launch of the  ‘Moodigo’ app, a media Q&A session was opened to everyone in attendance while the showcase and the booth for Mental Health Awareness campaign was opened to the public till late evening.