Psychosocial Intervention in Response to COVID-19 Pandemic in Sarawak

  • Ting Chuong Hock Psychological Medicine, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS), 94300 Kota Samarahan, Sarawak, Malaysia.
  • Tan Joo Siang Guidance and Counselling Department, School of Education, Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM), 81310, Skudai, Johor, Malaysia.
  • Chan Wan Xin Counseling Programme, Faculty of Cognitive Sciences and Human Development, Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS), 94300 Kota Samarahan, Sarawak, Malaysia.
  • Voon Siok Ping Psychology Programme, Faculty of Cognitive Sciences and Human Development, Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS), 94300 Kota Samarahan, Sarawak, Malaysia.
Keywords: COVID-19, Pandemic, Psychosocial Intervention, Sarawak


In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the world has been anticipating a greater need for mental health and psychosocial support with the rise in mental health issues when facing many struggles and uncertainties, testing the limits of our current health care system. In this paper, we aim to present a general view of the psychosocial support implemented in Sarawak during the COVID-19 pandemic from the lens of different socio-ecological systems in Sarawak which include the healthcare system, community organizations, and the policy makers. Firstly, this paper provides an overview of the COVID-19 situation in Sarawak in general for the past year. Worth to mention, Sarawak was the first state in Malaysia recorded fatality case resulted from COVID-19 and this inevitably triggered strong negative emotional response during the initial stage of the pandemic. Secondly, the combined efforts initiated by the local state government, the state health departments, several general hospitals and major health clinics were addressed. The delivery of health care service had to be modified according to the strict preventive and social distancing measures recommended by the public health system, including the shift of conventional service to the provision of tele-counselling and psychological first aid. Also, the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on mental health has brought the politicians’ attention. Lastly, the challenges faced in dealing with the mental health services during the COVID-19 pandemic and the potential paths of the mental health movement were discussed.


Download data is not yet available.


Barker, A. (2020). Coronavirus COVID-19 cases spiked across Asia after a mass gathering in Malaysia. This is how it caught the countries by surprise. ABC News.

Borneo Post Online (2020a, January 25). First coronavirus cases in Malaysia: 3 Chinese nationals confirmed infected, quarantined in Sungai Buloh Hospital. Borneo Post Online.

Borneo Post Online (2020b, April 21). Covid-19 Online Support Group to start first session today. Borneo Post Online.

Borneo Post Online (2020c, October 15). SDMC: Entry restrictions into Sarawak extended to Nov 15. Borneo Post Online.

COVIDTrace (2020). COVID Trace.

Dayak Daily (2020). Sarawak’s COVIDTrace and Qmunity apps to help manage COVID-19.

Department of Statistic Malaysia. (2011). Population distribution and basic demographic characteristic report 2010. The Department of Statistic Malaysia Official Portal. Cat&cat=117&bul_id=MDMxdHZjWTk1SjFzTzNkRXYzcVZjdz09&menu_id=L0pheU43NWJwRWVSZklWdzQ4TlhUUT09

Herald Malaysia Online (2020, July 15). Christians comprise largest religious group in Sarawak. Herald Malaysian Online.

Koenig, H. G., & Larson, D. B. (2001). Religion and mental health: Evidence for an association. International Review of Psychiatry, 13(2), 67–78. 10.1080/09540260124661

Kontoangelos, K., Economou, M., & Papageorgiou, C. (2020). Mental health effects of COVID-19 pandemia: A review of clinical and psychological traits. Psychiatry Investigation, 17(6), 491–505.

Ling, S. (2020b). COVID-19: No new cases in Sarawak. The Star.

Ling, S. (2020a). Pastor from Sarawak is first COVID-19 fatality in Malaysia. The Star.

The Straits Times (2020, March 17). Malaysia reports first two deaths due to coronavirus. The Straits Times.

Malaysiakini (2020). Don’t stigmatise COVID-19 patient.

Malaysian Dutch Business Council (2020). MCO updates.

New Sarawak Tribune (2020a, April 25). Visit ‘Safe Haven’ for activities you can do during MCO. New Sarawak Tribune.

New Sarawak Tribune (2020b, November 27). Build resilience, says Befrienders. New Sarawak Tribune.

New Straits Times (2020a, March 26). 24-hour Talian Kasih hotline to help deal with mental turmoil during MCO. New Strait Times.

New Straits Time (2020b, October 1). COVID-19: Sarawak tightens travel measures. New Straits Times.

Sarawak Disaster Management Committee (2020). Sarawak Disaster Information.

Shanmugan, H., Juhari, J. A., Nair, P., Chow, S. K., & Ng, C. G. (2020). Impacts of COVID-19 pandemic on mental health in Malaysia: A single thread of hope. Malaysian Journal of Psychiatry Ejournal, 29(1).

Tawie, S. (2020). Sarawak identifies four possible COVID-19 clusters. Malay Mail.

The Mental Health Innovation Network. (2020). Staff support during COVID-19: MHPSS initiatives from Miri General Hospital, Malaysia.

World Health Organization. (2020). Coronavirus disease.

Xiang, Y. T., Yang, Y., Li, W., Zhang, L., Zhang, Q., Cheung, T., & Ng, C. H. (2020). Timely mental health care for the 2019 novel coronavirus outbreak is urgently needed. The Lancet Psychiatry, 7(3), 228–229.

How to Cite
Chuong Hock, T., Joo Siang, T., Wan Xin, C. and Siok Ping, V. (2022) “Psychosocial Intervention in Response to COVID-19 Pandemic in Sarawak”, Malaysian Journal of Social Sciences and Humanities (MJSSH), 7(8), p. e001678. doi: 10.47405/mjssh.v7i8.1678.