Wednesday, November 27, 2013

More young people having mental health problems

SIBU: The nation is likely to be burdened by a generation with mental health problem as the number of children aged 15 and below afflicted by it are on the rise.
This observation came from National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (Niosh) chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye.
“Health Ministry statistics show that mental health problems among the group rose to 13 percent in 1996, 19.4 percent in 2006 and 20 percent in 2011,” he said.
Lee, who is a member of the Mental Health Advisory Council, said in a press statement emailed here on Monday that it was imperative that school children detected to have severe symptoms of stress, anxiety or depression be given appropriate interventions including counselling and mental health coping skills.
“The increase in stress level whether in school, at the workplace or elsewhere is one of the major factors causing more people to develop mental disorders.
“Among the mental health promotion activities that can be implemented in schools are promoting mental health literacy in the school community through talks, exhibitions and quizzes that can be held as extra curricula activities involving PTAs and school clubs,” Lee suggested.
He said schools need to have more counsellors trained to guide and help students to handle stress and cope with life situations.
He added: “We need to instill basic self-confidence in children with the cooperation of parents so failures or disappointments are seen as opportunities to try again rather than a lack of ability and taking the road to disaster.”
He observed at community level growing evidence that the burden of disease was gradually but surely shifting towards poor mental health and mental disorder.
While heart diseases, cancer and HIV-AIDS and others took their toll yearly in the form of death, the burden of diseases such as depression was rapidly becoming a major source of stress not only on the individual and his family but also on his community, he elaborated.
Of late, there had been an increase in number of suicides among persons with mental health disorders, he noted.
“Psychiatric disorders and other forms of mental illness are tragic reminders of another side of life which must not be overlooked in our quest to become a fully industrialised nation.
“The impact of mental health problems on people and their families as well as society as a whole is immense and needs to be addressed,” emphasised Lee.
He said it was imperative for the country to have more community mental health care centres.
The centres would provide mental health counselling, deal with stigmatisation, create awareness of mental health, and empower service users and their families.
“Stigma is one of the biggest challenges surrounding mental illness. Stigma is the single most important barrier to quality of life of mental health consumers and family members – more so than the illness itself – and a major impediment to mental health reform and development.” Lee concluded
“We, therefore, need to train more psychiatrists and psychologists for our hospitals and clinics to deal with people suffering from mental disorders while non-governmental organisations should be given financial assistance to promote mental health in the community. We are also severely lacking in psychiatric occupational therapists,” Lee concluded.

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