PETALING JAYA: Mental health is an issue that everyone should pay attention to in order to prevent suicides, says the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA).
According to the association, the public plays an important role in recognising the signs that might indicate that someone is facing mental health issues to enable early medical intervention.
Here is MMA’s statement in full:
The public has an important role in recognising early signs of mental health issues in their family members, friends and colleagues, in efforts to prevent suicides.
Recognising early signs of mental health issues such as depression or anxiety can help in enabling early medical intervention.
With an early diagnosis, counselling and treatments, significant improvement in outcomes can be achieved.
We urge the Ministry of Health to increase and intensify its mental health awareness campaigns and look into ways to educate the public on recognising mental health problems early in its efforts to prevent suicides.
We also urge the government to get tougher on the issue of bullying, cyberbullying and all forms of abuse as this too can trigger depression and even suicidal thoughts in victims.
The MMA applauds MPs for the passing of the Bill in the Dewan Rakyat to decriminalise attempted suicide. It is a move the MMA had also been pushing for.
We congratulate all MPs and thank them for recognising that an evidence-based approach consisting of medical treatment and care is indeed the way forward to addressing the issue.
Another important step that needs to be taken is the setting up of a national registry for suicide related cases.
In 2021, the Ministry of Health then, had stated that a National Suicide and Fatal Injury Registry Malaysia (NSFIRM) is being developed and is expected to be ready this year. We hope there will be an update on this soon.
The registry must be made a priority as it will enable the planning of more effective strategies in addressing the issue of suicides.
A more coordinated implementation of national mental health policies is also needed. The National Strategic Plan for Mental Health 2020 - 2025 developed by the Health Ministry is a comprehensive plan aimed at promoting mental health wellbeing, prevent mental disorders, provide care, enhance recovery and reduce mortality, morbidity and disability for persons with mental health problems, however, it’s recommendations will require commitment and implementation at the various levels: inter-ministry, relevant agencies, inter-sector, educational institutions, community, etc. for it to achieve the desired outcomes.
Lastly, the government should look into enhancing primary care services for mental health through a public private collaboration with the 12,000 private GPs that are well distributed nationwide.
Primary care providers have an important role in mental health management as they are usually the patient's first point of contact when seeking health care.
Most private GPs have also established a good rapport with their patients and this helps in noticing any changes in their patient's mental health.
DR MURUGA RAJ RAJATHURAI
Malaysian Medical Association president