PUTRAJAYA, Malaysia - Next of kin of the passengers of missing Flight MH370 could be putting up a brave front, but may be facing inner turmoil with no conclusive updates forthcoming even after four days, according to psychiatrists and counsellors working with them.
Malaysia Public Service Department's psychology management director Dr Abd Halim Mohd Hussin said the 41 families under the care of Malaysia Airlines were growing restless and frustrated with the wait.
"We know the wait is painful and difficult, so our team from the Health and Women, Family and Community Development Ministry are doing our best to comfort them."
Perdana University Graduate School of Medicine Assoc Prof of Psychiatry Datuk Dr Andrew Mohanraj, who evaluated the counselling team, said he was satisfied with the "psychological first aid" rendered to the families.
"The counsellors are not asking probing questions which could cause psychological scarring in light of this catastrophic event.
"I am pleased to say that their approach has been supportive.
"But there is still a need to provide a credible and consistent stream of information to the families on the investigations, which is crucial for their mental state," said Dr Andrew, who also appealed to the media to be gentler when speaking to the families and not to adopt the "ambush style" of questioning.
Family members of five people who were on Flight MH370 have also sought counselling from the Welfare Department, said department director-general Datuk Noraini Mohd Hashim.
According to Noraini, the department had mobilised 47 certified counsellors from various government departments.
"They are on 24-hour shift duty," Noraini said after launching the Child Protection Policy for private children's homes and non-governmental organisations.
She said the affected families had been informed that counselling services are available at all times.
The team, which currently has 11 Mandarin-speaking persons, needs more counsellors who can speak the language.
"So we urge them to come and help us, otherwise we would need to use our Mandarin-speaking welfare officers," she said.
Meanwhile, Wanita Umno head Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil led 1,500 wing members in a solat hajat for the missing flight and its passengers at the Putra Mosque yesterday.
She said the 19,000 Wanita Umno members would continue performing the prayer until the plane was found.