Taking mental health seriously

Dr Mah (standing sixth from left) with the Taiping PSR Unit that won in the sports category. — RONNIE CHIN/The Star

IN PERAK alone, about 61,879 patients with mental health issues get regular treatment in hospitals around the state in 2016.

That is a 92% increase compared to 2015, where hospitals around the state recorded 56,891 patients.

In 2014, about 55,639 patients went for regular treatment.

Every year, there is an increase of patients and according to Perak health committee chairman Datuk Dr Mah Hang Soon; it is something that we all have to look at as it is an important aspect of our life.

Stating that mental health issues could happen to anyone, he said mental health is often neglected by some and nobody pays due attention to it.

What alarms Dr Mah is the number of youngsters, especially those from the ages 16 to 19, having mental health issues.

“According to the National Health and Morbidity research that was done in 2015, about 29% of people from the ages of 16 and above have mental health issues.

“That’s 4.2 million people.

“It means, one out of three Malaysians have mental problems and according to the survey also, those from the 16 to 19 age group and lower income community are the highest in the list.

“It is increasing every year and awareness must be created,” he told reporters after launching the Perak Psychosocial Rehabilitation (PSR) Community Carnival at Kolej Sains Kesihatan Bersekutu Sultan Azlan Shah in Tanjung Rambutan.

Dr Mah said some of the factors that contribute to mental health are financial crisis, unemployment, work stress, family issues like divorce and lack of parental guidance, substance abuse and environmental factors.

He added that some people have poor coping skills and lack social support, which will then lead to problems for them.

“Even though the government provides mental treatment and service those with depression do not seek help as they are afraid of social stigma.

“I would like to state here that we are concerned about the increase in cases and we are doing our bit to help people.

“The Health Ministry has come up with several campaigns, such as mental health promotional campaigns, screenings, interventions and teaching communities on how to deal with stress,” he said.

For treatment and rehabilitation, there are 48 hospitals under the ministry and four mental institut­ions that give psychiatric services while 671 health clinic and 20 community mental health centres provide screenings and interven­tions for those who need help with mental health.

In Perak, there are six PSR centres and the first one was built in Kampung Simee on Aug 1, 2000 and in July 2, 2012, the centre was upgraded to community mental health centre and since then, it has spread to places like Bagan Datuk, Taiping, Teluk Intan, Ayer Tawar, Tanjung Malim.

Every year, patients from these rehabilitation centres will meet for a carnival and take part in various activities to help them socialise with people and assimilate themselves into the society.

“We want them to interact and get themselves active and excited because that will contribute to a better quality of life for them.

“PSR helps people to redeem their self-esteem, and carnivals like this will only make them feel confident. This event also helps raise awareness.

“We want everyone to experience normal lives.

“Mental wellness and health is related to our life. All of us will go through down times but with the right guidance and diagnosis, your life will get back on track.

“I am glad that caretakers go great lengths to help them. Also, some family members are sending their loved ones for early treatment.

“What we are doing here is meaningful and I hope it will get better in the years to come.”

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Metro , Perak , mental health


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