Depression: Poor conditions common in mental health care facilities

PETALING JAYA: Made to shower naked in the open, sleep in a room without curtains, ignored, stigmatised and shunned. Such is the condition of some patients who suffer from mental health problems in Malaysia.

International Medical University, consultant psychiatrist and addiction medicine specialist, Dr Philip George said he witnessed this at one of the prominent mental health clinics in Malaysia.

“They renamed the clinic in hopes of trying to remove the stigma revolving around the place, not the disease, but the place.

“But if you go there and see the way people are treated,  it is heartbreaking and unfair to them. They are subject to ill-treatment simply because they have a mental disorder and that should never be the case,” he said during a Mental Health Seminar in Damansara.

He added that despite multiple attempts by many psychologists and psychiatrists to bring about improvements in mental health treatment in Malaysia, it seemed to fail every time.

“Sometime back, I had brought down my mentor from Australia here, and during his visit, I took him to the men’s psych ward, shortly after we walked in, he had to run out to vomit!. That is how bad things are for patients with mental health problems here.

“I had even asked my students ‘what if you needed to be admitted there, or send your parents or family there for treatment? all of them would not stay there for more than an hour,” he said adding that he had made a lot of attempts to push for better facilities.

He added that instead of acknowledging the attempts, institutes like Institut Jantung Negara and Institut Respiratory Negara are being built and improved.

“Just about everything else is given adequate attention. There are no five star mental health services, and despite the prevalence of the disease in our country, it is highly under recognised.

Related stories:

Depression: 40% of Malaysians will suffer from mental health issues in their lifetime

Depression: Health Ministry needs to boost mental health facilities

Depression: How lack of awareness led to a tragic suicide


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