A recent study by think tank The Centre has shown that those aged 35 and below, women, and single people are the demographics worst hit in terms of mental health throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.
The study, carried out from Feb 4 to 14 and involving nearly 1,000 participants, was part of a four-part research series titled “A Year of Living Under Covid-19”.
It showed that those 35 and below have a higher risk of feeling depressed, anxious and stressed compared to those from older age groups.
Researchers also said that women are more likely to feel these markers of negative mental health compared to men, while single participants reported lower levels of mental health compared to those who were married.
“According to global studies, uncertainty of future prospects, financial distress, social isolation and lack of quality sleep are the likely causes of negative mental health among the young,” they said in a press statement.
“For gender, other studies have found that challenges such as parenting during the pandemic, uneven distribution of domestic care and an increased risk of domestic violence are some of the key contributors to women’s mental health struggles in the last year.”
The study also cited a drop in income and absolute household income levels as significant predictors of negative mental health.
It said individuals with household incomes of less than RM5,000 are more likely to experience higher anxiety levels than those who earn more.
It also found a “clear relationship” between physical health and mental well-being, with participants who reported deteriorating health over the past year experiencing a dip in mental health as well.
Other factors taken into consideration included household occupancy and working from home.
“The government should consider decentralising service provision and resources, and empower state and local authorities to offer mental health support, particularly in targeting vulnerable groups such as young people and women,” the researchers said.
“The effects of the Covid-19 pandemic will be felt for many years – even decades – to come. We need to address these social challenges now if we are serious about helping Malaysians navigate their way safely into the post-pandemic future.”