Mental illness ‘on the rise’ in sultanate

Mental illness is on the rise in the sultanate with anxiety disorder cases rising from 1,515 in 2021 to 1,637 in 2022 and depression and bipolar disorder showing a similar trend, Health Minister Dr Mohd Isham Jaafar said.

The data is based on patients who have sought treatment at health centres thus it is likely that there are more people with mental illness yet to receive medical attention due to stigma, he said.

He said this in a keynote presentation titled “Mental Health towards the Welfare of Ummah” at the Regional Seminar on Mental Health 2023 at the International Convention Centre, Berakas on Saturday.Mohd Isham said a survey of 312 health personnel in the Sultanate during the Covid-19 outbreak found 21.5% with depression or anxiety disorder, 85.3% with medium to high levels of burnout and 2.24% with suicidal ideation.

The minister said the rate of mental disorder is higher among youth, women, single individuals, locals and those with previous mental health problems.

“People with mental illness do not choose to be ill,” he said, “the situation, environment and people around are contributors to emotional pressure and stress. When it becomes uncontrollable or unbearable, and when there is no safeguard like family support and medical intervention, depression can worsen until it endangers one’s life.”

Mohd Isham said mental health issues can affect an individual regardless of age, race and gender.

The causes may be life experiences such as childhood trauma, loneliness, lack of social exposure, living with chronic illness, job loss, loss of loved ones, drug addiction or domestic abuse, he added. — Borneo Bulletin/ANN

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