Think tank: M’sians report high levels of negative emotions during MCO

CENTRIST think tank The Centre has discovered high levels of negative emotions among Malaysians since the enforcement of the movement control order (MCO) on March 18.

According to a survey undertaken by the think tank on housing and crowding, and the state of mental well-being of the occupants during the MCO, 48% of the respondents reported experiencing varying levels of anxiety, depression (45%), and varying levels of stress (34%).

Of these, 22% of respondents self-reported severe and extremely severe anxiety, while 20% and 15% experienced similarly alarming levels of depression and stress, respectively.

“Unfortunately, we were unable to locate national level ‘normal time’ baseline proportions to compare these proportions to. However, the absence of the baseline does not invalidate the seriousness of the extent to which Malaysians are experiencing negative emotions during the MCO,” The Centre said.

The study was conducted via an online survey, which was distributed using a snowball sampling method between April 5 and 10.

Set up in July 2019, The Centre is a research organisation dedicated to centrist views in the Malaysian context.

It aims to communicate its research and views in a digestible manner for the benefit of all while striving to have more than 50% of its output in Bahasa Malaysia.

In the survey, The Centre collected 1,103 responses, of which 19 were rejected due to duplication and irregular responses, leaving the think tank with a sample of 1,084.

With respect to areas where they lived, 57% of the respondents reported residing in urban surroundings, with the remaining 43% staying in suburban and rural areas.

In terms of housing, 48% reported living in terrace houses, followed by 22% in condominiums and apartments and 3.0% in low-cost housing.

Overall, the residents of low-cost housing units are experiencing higher levels of depression, anxiety and stress compared to those living in other types of housing.

The level of negative emotions experienced by single occupants is much higher than for those living with other people, while 54% of residents living in single occupancy households report signs of depression, followed by 50% and 37% having signs of anxiety and stress, respectively.

Mental well-being has a significant impact on the economy with a recent study carried out by RELATE Malaysia showing that in 2018, mental health issues among employees were estimated to cost RM14 bil or 1% of the gross domestic product.

The Centre’s survey also found that women experience significantly more negative emotions compared to men.

Notably, a higher proportion of women in the sample exhibited severe or extremely severe signs of depression, anxiety and stress (21, 26 and 18%, respectively) compared to men (14, 15 and 10%, respectively).

The difference between women and men is more observable for stress and anxiety, where 38% and 48% of women, respectively, reported experiencing these two negative emotions, compared to 25% and 38%, respectively, for men. — April 30, 2020, Bernama

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