Health Ministry encourages M'sians to speak up on mental health issues

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysians should come forward and voice their views on mental health issues, says Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad.

The launch of "Let's Talk Malaysia" awareness campaign to tackle mental health issues comes in light of the worrying rise in the number of Malaysians, especially the youth, who suffer mental problems in silence.

"The challenges faced in dealing with the ongoing problem of mental health are very worrying.

"This is especially so following the recent case where a teenager took her own life based on an Instagram poll," Dr Dzulkefly said when answering a question raised by Datuk Dr Hassan Baharom (PH-Tampin) in Parliament on Thursday (July 18).

He said the aim of the programme was to remove the stigma of those seeking professional help for mental problems like depression, anxiety and stress.

"Studies have shown that depression, anxiety and stress affects some 42% of women compared to between 18% to 19% among men," he said.

The Health Minister said those suffering from mental challenges usually shied away from seeking professional help for fear of being stigmatised.

He added that his ministry was working closely with several agencies and stakeholders on the awareness campaign.

According to him, the ministry would be launching the National Strategic Action Plan Mental Health (2019-2025) this coming September.

Earlier, Dr Hassan asked what was being done to address the issue of social stigma.

"There is a fear of coming forward to Tanjung Rambutan and Tampoi mental hospitals to seek help. A good example is the recent hysteria case of residents in Pasir Gudang.

"I'm sure some would not dare come forward to seek counselling and help at the centres as they fear being stigmatised," he said.

Dr Hassan suggested that all hospitals set up their own dedicated mental health unit.

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