The Church in Malaysia accompanies young people suffering from depression. “The mental condition of depression is a growing phenomenon among young Malaysians”, said Catholic lay leader Joseph Pragasam to Fides News Agency.
The “National Health and Morbidity Survey”, a survey conducted by the Public Health Institute of the Ministry of Health, found that mental health status among adolescents in Malaysia is worrying. The nationwide survey revealed that Malaysians between the ages of 13 and 17 suffer from mental health problems. One out of five suffers from depression (18.3 percent), two out of five suffer from anxiety (39.7%) and one out of ten suffers from stress (9.6 percent).
The student problems survey found that 50% of 120,420 students faced personal problems that included exam stress, 29 percent faced family problems, 11% faced problems with friends and 10% had problems with their teachers.
Faced with this emergency, “several parishes and dioceses in Malaysia have decided to commit themselves to accompanying young people and allow them to overcome depression and mental health problems”, Pragasam said. “We must accompany them in their personal lives, on a human and spiritual level, and follow their course of study. Today’s young people face many challenges.”
Parishes above all seek to accompany young people in cultivating faith on a personal level. Parents have an important role in communicating faith to their children, “and a healthy spiritual life can protect you from depression,” he noted.
“Another hope is that in the future there will be priests and religious vocations that can dedicate themselves to this mission”, said the parish priest of St. Michael, Father Anthony Liew, inviting parents and the elderly to “accompany their children on their journey to faith and pray for them”.
Father Liew explains that “young Catholics must above all put the will of God first and ask themselves how to live a meaningful and happy life: this is the first antidote to depression. Every person, every young person is called to discern his call, in a religious consecration or in lay life. In the certainty that God never abandons him.”
Malaysia is a Muslim-majority country based on secular principles. Christianity in Malaysia is a minority religion practiced by 9.2 percent of the population (2010 census). Two-thirds of the 2.6 million Christians live in eastern Malaysia, composed of the provinces of Sabah and Sarawak (on the large island of Borneo), where they make up 30 percent of the population.