Lam Thye: Focus on mental health of Malaysian youth - Labour Law Blog

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Jul 3, 2017

Lam Thye: Focus on mental health of Malaysian youth

Lam Thye: Focus on mental health of Malaysian youth

PETALING JAYA: Malaysia needs to focus more on the mental health and emotional well-being of young people, said National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye (pic).

Lee,a member of the Health Ministry's Mental Health Promotion Advisory Council, said the recent increase in violent behaviour and suicidal tendency among Malaysian youth should be viewed seriously.

"The government and community cannot remain silent any longer and must address the issue, especially the stigma of mental disorder," Lee said in a statement on Sunday.

He said that awareness of mental health issues must be raised in schools while mental healthcare be made more accessible.

"We must also ensure that patients' rights are not being discriminated and they be allowed to make informed choices on their treatment and be legally protected," he said.

Lee quoted data from the 2015 National Health and Morbidity Survey, which found that 29.2 per cent of Malaysians above the age of 16 suffered from mental illness. This number constituted an 11.2 per cent increase from 2006.

He said a government campaign is needed to encourage those facing depression and other mental health disorders to seek help from mental healthcare centres.

"At the same time, the government must address the shortage of competent experts, especially clinical psychologists, to deal with mental health problems.

"Malaysia is also lacking in psychiatrists as at present, there are merely 360 registered psychiatrists in the public and private sectors," he added.

He explained that psychiatrists are trained medical doctors who can prescribe medication while psychologists focus more on psychotherapy and use behavioural intervention to treat emotional and mental issues in patients.

Lee said that efforts were also needed to promote mental health issues in workplaces. He called on employers to establish occupational safety and health committees to address mental health problems in their employees.

He also suggested that organisations introduce employment assistance programmes to provide prevention and early intervention for employees facing stress, emotional and mental health issues.

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