Lee: Time to take mental health problem seriously

PETALING JAYA: It is time for society to stop labelling those with mental problems as “orang gila” (crazy person) and start addressing it as a serious health issue that could lead to perilous consequences if neglected.

Social activist Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye said those suffering from mental illness are like ticking time bombs.

“Mental and psychosocial issues are also affecting the well-being of the community,” he said, citing the killing of two young children in Yan, Kedah, who were slashed in their sleep.

In the Jan 8 incident, five-year-old Nurul Hanim Idris was found with slash wounds while her year-old brother Muhammad Hafis had his throat slit by a suspect who had run amok.

Police later said that the suspect had mental problems and tested positive for drugs.

Lee said there had been other murder cases that allegedly involved suspects with mental disorders in the country including a 31-year-old mother, who had been reported to be in a pensive mood before she slit her two-year-old son’s throat in June last year.

It was also reported that the woman had been mentally unsound and had hallucinations.

“This shows how serious the issue is and the need to deal with it from the ground up,” he said.

Lee said such incidents should be a wake-up call to the government to urgently address mental issues and beef up mental health development programmes in the country.

“Prevention in the early stage can certainly reduce the likelihood of people with mental problems turning violent or doing extreme things, including committing murder or suicide.

“Instead of insulting them, the community should help those with mental disorders to get counselling service or psychiatric treatment,” he said.

He added that society should also make efforts to tackle drug addiction as it could also cause mental problems and other illnesses.