KUALA LUMPUR – In order to be a developed and high-income nation in tandem with National Transformation 2050, the government must not lose sight of the importance of mental health.
Mental Health Promotion Advisory Council member, Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye said the government and community must not turn a blind eye or stay silent any longer as the statistics had grown significantly over the years.
“The stigma over mental health must be addressed. Awareness must be created in schools, through public education and anti-discrimination campaigns, while mental healthcare must be improved with accessible and affordable evidence-based assessments, prevention and clinical treatments,” he said in a statement today.
According to the National Health and Morbidity Survey 2015, about 4.2 million Malaysians aged 16 years and above, or 29.2 per cent of the population, suffered from various mental problems. The number is alarming as it shows an increase of 11.2 per cent over the figure in 2006.
Lee also urged the authorities to introduce guidelines in promoting mental health at workplaces and to encourage campaigns to create awareness of the issue.
“Employers must establish Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) committees to help examine and identify problems related to mental health at workplaces and formulate a credible programme to address these problems. Such organisations can provide both prevention and early intervention for employees affected by stress, emotional and mental health issues,” he said.
Lee who is also the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) chairman, also called on the government to address the shortage of competent experts to deal with mental health problems, especially clinical psychologists.
“Malaysia is lacking of psychiatrists as at present, there are merely 360 registered psychiatrists in both the public and private sectors in the country. The ratio of psychiatrists to the total population in Malaysia is 1:200,000, which is much lower than the 1:10,000 recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO),” he said.
Psychiatrists are trained medical doctors and can prescribe medications while psychologists focus extensively on psychotherapy and treating emotional and mental suffering in patients with behavioural intervention. – BERNAMA