MENTAL HEALTH: Number of kids facing problems worrisome
The New Straits Times Online, 14 October 2013
PSYCHIATRIC disorders and other forms of mental illness are tragic reminders of another side of life that must not be overlooked in our quest to become a fully industrialised nation.
The impact of mental health problems on society is immense and needs to be addressed.
Of late, there has been an increase in the number of suicide cases among students and persons with mental health disorders. Therefore, it is necessary to ensure the health and wellbeing of all Malaysians and their families.
More community mental healthcare centres need to be set up to provide counselling, deal with stigmatisation, create awareness about mental health and empower service users and their families.
Today, stigmatisation and discrimination are seen as major obstacles for those coping with mental health problems. Stigmatisation makes people suffer, hampers them from getting help and hinders intervention.
We need to train more psychiatrists and psychologists for hospitals and clinics to deal with people suffering from mental disorders.
Non-governmental organisations must be given financial assistance to promote mental health in the community. We also lack occupational therapists.
Schoolchildren showing symptoms of stress, anxiety or depression should be given counselling.
Mental health literacy can be promoted in schools through talks, exhibitions and quizzes. These can be held as extra-curricular activities, involving parent-teacher associations and school clubs. Schools need to have more trained counsellors and effective tools to guide students on how to handle stress and cope with difficult situations.
It is a serious concern that the number of children aged 15 and below who are suffering from mental health problem is on the rise.
Health Ministry statistics show that mental health problems involving the group have risen from 13 per cent in 1996 to 20 per cent in 2011.
Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye, chairman, National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, Kuala Lumpur