THE PUBLIC should take their family members who show signs of mental problems to seek psychiatrist help rather than traditional treatment say state health authorities.
State Health Department Director Datuk Dr Juita Ghazalie said if a family member or parent can sense that a child’s temperament is unusual, they should be taken to see a psychiatrist immediately.
“Please don’t leave them be, or take them to traditional healers like a bomoh. With proper counselling and the advanced medication that we have in hospitals today, they will be able to receive the help they need and recover well,” she said after launching the Raja Permaisuri Bainun Hospital’s World Suicide Prevention Day and World Mental Health Day 2016 celebration at Aeon Mall Ipoh Klebang last Sunday.
Dr Juita pointed out that there is a high chance that mental problems, if remain untreated, could lead to suicide.
Citing statistics for 2009 from the National Suicide Registry of Malaysia, she said 22% of the 328 suicide victims that year suffered from mental illnesses.
“Some 11.6% of victims suffered depression, and another 7% were schizophrenic,” she said.
Dr Juita added people between the ages 24 to 44 recorded the highest rate of suicide, while men are more likely than women to take their own lives.
“The registry data found that the ratio of men to women who committed suicide was 3:1.
“In terms of reasons for suicide, we find that family problems such as divorce, fights and financial issues are the main factor,” she said.
Based on the figures, Dr Juita said it is timely that the hospital has stepped up efforts to raise public awareness about suicide and mental health issues in conjunction with World Suicide Prevention Day on Sept 10 and World Mental Health Day on Oct 10.
“People who notice members of their family, especially children, displaying strange behaviours should take them to get psychologically assessed by psychiatrists in hospitals.
“This is so that we can provide counselling and immediate treatment before the problem worsens,” she said.
The hospital’s Psychiatry and Mental Health Department Head Dr Loo Tsui Huei also advocates the “emotional first aid” provided by suicide help-lines like the Befrienders.
“Having someone to talk to for emotional support can be of great help to those who are feeling depressed and suicidal,” she said.
Dr Loo said mental health issues are real and they cannot be viewed differently from physical crises.
“Barriers like ignorance, lack of knowledge and stigma need to be broken with the help of the public, government and non-governmental institutions.
“We also understand that a crisis can occur anywhere and at anytime. If someone is equipped with the skills to provide psychological and mental health first aid, it can be life saving,” she said, adding that the public should know that there is treatment and intervention for mental health issues, and that help is available.
During the event, activities such as mental health talks, mental health screenings, health screening, a blood donation drive, colouring competition, flash mob performance, and photo sessions with Star Wars characters were organised to engage the public.