According to the 2019 National Health and Morbidity Survey (NHMS 2019), nearly half a million Malaysians suffer from depression symptoms.
Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye, patron of Befrienders in Kuala Lumpur. He said that NHMS 2019 also found 424,000 children experiencing mental health problems.
In a statement issued today in conjunction with World Health Day 2020, he said: “Half of all mental disorders begin by the age of 14, and three-quarters by the mid-20s. Therefore, this needs to be addressed urgently.”
He said that with changes in the working environment, loss of income and jobs, and concerns about safety. The Covid-19 pandemic and the Movement Control Order (MCO) have also caused emotional distress for many people.
He added: “There are also those struggling with suicidal thoughts. The Health Ministry (MOH) recorded 465 attempted suicide cases between January and June this year.”
Lee said that although the implementation of the Reinstatement of Movement Control Order (RMCO) has improved the situation, the statistics of The Befrienders in Kuala Lumpur show that in July, August and September, they contacted more victims and suicidal people. Compared with April, May and June.
The government and the Ministry of Health need to allocate more funds for mental health care.
Therefore, Li said that the government and the Ministry of Health need to allocate more funds for mental health care. In the 2020 budget, only RM348.22 million is allocated for mental health care. This is slightly higher than 1% of the total health care budget-this figure is lower than the international average of 2.8%.
In addition to funding, Li said that efforts need to be made to increase the number of mental health professionals in the country. For example, psychiatrists and clinical psychologists, in order to make cost-effective treatment easier for those in need.
He said: “Data from 2018 shows that there were 410 psychiatrists in our country with a national average of 1.27 psychiatrists per 100,000 population. This is much lower than the World Health Organisation (WHO)’s recommended ratio of one psychiatrist per 10,000 population.”
At the same time, Lee Kuan Yew also encouraged the Ministry of Education to study the inclusion of mental health aspects in the education syllabus, including building adaptability, learning stress management and problem solving skills.
In addition, he said. parents must play an important role in providing children with a caring and encouraging environment. Let them expressing their feelings safely and talking openly about their mental health.
He added: “Everyone can contribute to the betterment of mental health. Start with self-care practices such as healthy eating, daily exercising as well as getting adequate sleep every night.”