130,000 Malaysian children mentally ill


  • Nation
  • Thursday, 23 Oct 2003

BY SHARON LING

KOTA SAMARAHAN: About 130,000 or 1.3% out of the 10 million children and adolescents in Malaysia suffer from mental illness, said Sarawak Public Health Assistant Minister Dr Soon Choon Teck. 

This, he said was considerably lower than the global figure of 20%, out of whom two-thirds did not receive the necessary assistance or treatment. 

“Child and adolescent mental illness which goes untreated can lead to serious consequences in the long term, such as poor academic performance, drug abuse, violence and suicide,” Dr Soon said yesterday when launching the state-level World Mental Health Day celebration themed Emotional and Behavioural Disorders of Children and Adolescents at the Civic Centre here. 

Dr Soon added that mental health problems in the young could be prevented or treated through early intervention and medication. 

In Kuching, an average of 10 children aged between 10 and 18 receive outpatient treatment at the Sentosa Mental Hospital monthly, while the Sarawak General Hospital’s specialist psychiatric clinic deals with three to five new child and adolescent cases and 10 to 15 follow-up cases a week. 

These patients receive treatment for a variety of problems including behavioural and emotional disorders and depression. 

Dr Soon called on parents to be observant of their children’s behaviour and to consult doctors if they noticed anything abnormal. 

 

“A lot of parents are not aware of behavioural disorders among their children. For example, sometimes repetitive disobedience could be caused by mental stress,” Dr Soon added. 

 

State health director Dr Yao Sik Chi said this year’s Mental Health Day focused on the emotional and behavioural well-being of children and adolescents.  

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