The article below is taken from MySinchew.com offers an excellent insight into mental health care in Malaysia and our
misconceptions regarding this topic. However, more and more students are more aware of the potential careers available with a psychology education thanks to the efforts of HELP University as the pioneer in psychology education and popularising it through continuous promotions to the public and educating the students at school.
Basically, Psychology involves the scientific study of mental functions and human behaviours through academic and applied discipline. The aim of psychology is to understand how we behave so that we can help those with problems to overcome the unwanted behaviours.
Have a read below and let me know what you think.
Malaysians lack understanding of mental health issues
KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 9 (Bernama) — The recent death of a mentally challenged man outside the Prime Minister’s department complex in Putrajaya has refocused attention on the lack of seriousness with which mental health disorders are treated in the country.
On July 9, security personnel tried to stop Khalil Afandi Abdul Hamid, 37, and a female accomplice who were armed with samurai swords and a knife and were displaying aggressive behaviour at the entrance of the department complex.
Their menacing behaviour elicited a strong reaction from security personnel, which resulted in Khalil Afandi’s death.
Though it was initially reported that the duo belonged to a deviant sect, further investigations have pointed towards their unstable mental health.
Tragedies involving people with mental health issues are not new to Malaysia, but society has remained apathetic towards the problem.
A general perception exists that a person with mental health problems is dangerous and cannot recover in any way. The stigma and discouraging response attached to such a condition forces persons with such problems to isolate themselves from the society and shy away from seeking treatment.
Early treatment helps
This also results in delayed diagnosis of such conditions and in cases like that of Khalil Afandi, a diagnosis is never made.
“Those diagnosed early with mental health problems do not endanger others.
Problems occur when they are diagnosed and treated late,” Dr Muhammad Muhsin Ahmad Zahari, a psychiatric consultant with the University Malaya Medical Centre told Bernama.
Patients suffering from hallucinations caused by schizophrenia and depression fail to seek treatment as they fear the backlash of societal prejudices against their mental ailment, Dr Muhammad Muhsin said.
Their condition deteriorates with the passage of time, which also increases their chances of endangering the public,” he said, adding that a mental health patient is unable to differentiate between right and wrong as their thinking process is impaired.
Moreover, they react aggressively once they start hallucinating, which puts them in danger.
Patients suffering from schizophrenia commit the most heinous crimes as they are disconnected from reality and there is nothing to stop them.
“However, the truth is, they can turn out to be less dangerous if they are treated early,” Dr Muhammad Muhsin said.
Worrying public apathy
They also point out that on average it takes up to 28 months for an individual with mental health problems to seek treatment, and by then it is possibly already too late because the individual’s thinking or decision making capacities might have been impaired beyond the scope of treatment.
A recent statement from the Health Ministry also commented on the decline in the levels of awareness regarding mental health issues.
In the last three years, only 1.2 to 1.5 per cent of individuals with mental health issues sought treatment at the public hospitals, which is a cause for concern given the probability that one out of every five Malaysians suffers some form of mental illness.
In addition to the lack of awareness on mental health issues, public prejudice also forces many persons to shy away from undergoing proper treatment or getting their illness diagnosed.
Many people are still unable to understand the difference between an all encompassing mental health term and a more specific mental problem term.
Persons with mental health issues also hesitate to seek psychiatric help out of a fear that they might be labelled as a “mental patient.”
This deep rooted misconception has led to a rise in social prejudice against people suffering from mental ailments.
Anyone facing the stress and pressures related to everyday living can have mental health issues. What matters is how they manage their emotional stress — by choosing good mental health or continuing with their mental problems without seeking help.
Families have a role to play
Apart from society, a person’s immediate family also plays an important role in helping them maintain good mental health by
getting their mental problems treated.
The most common sign of a mental health problem is a sudden change in the behaviour of a person — a jovial person might turn into an introvert, become short-tempered, start keeping or speaking to oneself, have a disrupted sleep pattern, lose their appetite, is unable to carry out daily activities or starts displaying suicidal tendencies.
“Those with mental health issues are probably slow in becoming aware of their condition due to the subtle nature of the problem and that is why their families should monitor them closely,” Dr Muhammad Muhsin said.
However, a proper diagnosis by an expert and the right therapy are a must. Parents whose children start displaying symptoms of a mental health problem, often go into a self denial mode fearing the social stigma associated with mental illness.
As a result, children suffer in silence and are ignored by their family and the society they live in.
A mentally ill person’s family plays a crucial role in their treatment process as they are the ones who will ensure that the person undergoing treatment completes their course of the prescribed medication.
It is also common that halfway through the treatment families start taking for granted that the patient has recovered without
realising that the patient can relapse under duress.
Therefore, those with mental health issues should make it a point to consult a psychiatrist. Today’s stressful life calls for greater resilience and proper mental health management, and those who have a family history of mental illness should exercise greater care.
Persons displaying symptoms of a mental health problem should be encouraged to see a psychiatrist in order to prevent the problem from deteriorating further.
“The view that there is no need to consult a psychiatrist for addressing problems related to the mind is a fallacy. The notion that people can treat themselves or just seek a friend’s help for resolving their problem is also wrong,” Dr Muhammad Muhsin said.
In a nutshell, greater awareness about mental health and early treatment can help save many people with mental problems. Getting rid of the stigma and discrimination associated with mental health issues is the first step towards keeping mental health illnesses in check and helping those suffering from mental problems.
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