PETALING JAYA: In an attempt to fight the stigma of mental health issues, two organisations are conducting a social media campaign encouraging people to speak up about their conditions.
Called #TeamNotAshamedMY, it was inspired by the worldwide #ImNotAshamed campaign.
The campaign, which was launched on Feb 3, is organised by Relate Malaysia and the Malaysian Youth Mental Health Initiative (Minda).
Those suffering from mental health problems are invited to share a selfie of themselves and their stories on social media with the hashtags #ImNotAshamed and #TeamNotAshamedMY.
Dr Chua Sook Ning of Relate Malaysia said that the purpose of the campaign was to help people overcome the stigma associated with mental health problems.
“They are afraid that they would be ostracised, feared and rejected by society, family and friends. They are told that they need to get over it, to just stop being sad, to not worry about silly things.
“They are told that people with mental health conditions are unstable and dangerous,” said Dr Chua, who is a clinical psychologist and lecturer at the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore.
According to the 2015 National Health and Morbidity Survey, about 29.2% or about one in three Malaysian adults are at the risk of developing mental health problems.
Mental illnesses include bipolar disorders, depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and anorexia.
Dr Chua said many just hide their illness and pretend that they are doing perfectly fine.
Some people, she said, do not seek treatment at all for fear of people finding out that they have a mental health condition.
A World Health Organisation mental health report released in 2014 on the profile of Malaysia showed that there are only one psychiatrist and one psychologist available for 100,000 people.
Fatin Nurafiqah of Minda said that the campaign has been encouraging so far, with many coming out to speak about their conditions.
Their Facebook page has now more than 3,000 fans, compared to 300 before the campaign started.
“The aim of the campaign is to encourage people to talk about their condition and to seek professional help,” she said.