Depression: Health Ministry needs to boost mental health facilities

  • Nation
  • Sunday, 02 Apr 2017

Hospital Bahagia is one of the main facilities in Malaysia dedicated to treating mental health issues.

PETALING JAYA: The Health Ministry is looking to expand and improve facilities needed for mental health treatment, but the urgency of the upgrades depends on the diseases burden to the nation.

The ministry's deputy director general Datuk Dr Jeyaindran Sinnadurai told The Star Online that facilities given priority for improvements are those coping with the largest disease burdens.

"At the moment, the highest burden are diabetes and dialysis where more than a billion ringgit is spent annually.

"The number of diabetes patients and those going for amputation and dialysis are all big numbers, so that is what we are working on now," he said adding that it needs to be understood that every single focus group feels that their condition is the most important.

He added that the ministry is aware of the lack in mental health facilities here and is working towards getting more psychologists and psychiatrists in the service.

"We understand there are certain limitations and since it is becoming acceptable for people to openly discuss mental health issues and address  the need for it to be treated, we will definitely work towards improving the services needed.

"Although a lot of mental health patients can be sent back into the community as a form of treatment, others for various reasons, are not allowed to leave the hospitals. The stigma around mental health issues also makes the situation worse, which is why it is important for this to be addressed and worked upon," he said.

Asked on rumours of mental health institutions here poorly maintained, Dr Jeyaindran said the ministry monitors all medical institutes and hospitals around the country, especially mental hospitals with a large number of patients.

"The problem is that most of these hospitals deal with more patients than they were originally built for. A decade ago doctors and nurses were allocated to a hospital in accordance to the number of beds, but now the hospital sees double or triple the number.

"Unfortunately, these hospitals have not kept up with the increase and now the ministry is taking upon itself to re-look the number of people needed by doing what we call 'work-leveling'.

He said that the process will asses how much a doctor can and should do while assessing the dynamics of the work.

"Of course we cannot run away from the fact that we need more hospitals to maintain the amount good quality services to the people.

"However the process of upgrading a medical facility is a tedious task as we cannot just close it down. A lot of planning is needed and that requires a lot of time," he added.

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