Materia Medica Malaysiana

July 27, 2004


Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 5:04 am

New policies on treatment of mental patients soon

Kuala Lumpur: Policies on the treatment of mental patients and those who suffer from mental health problems are being revamped.

Health Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek said there were certain components that were neglected in the existing policies such as education, curative, rehabilitation and after-care.

“There has been a neglect of mental health and as we progress I can foresee more and more people with mental health problems,” he said.

A committee headed by Director-General of Health Tan Sri Dr Mohammad Taha Arif will prepare a working paper on mental health problem.

The Ministry’s finding showed that mental illness cases have doubled in six years – from 11,120 outpatients last year compared with 5,687 in 1998.

Also, it was found that 10 to 15 per cent of these patients are suicidal or could harm other people and that 20 per cent of the population have mental health problems, but many are reluctant to seek treatment.

It was also revealed that one in four families has at least one member suffering from a mental or behavioural disorder.

Working Malaysians, increasingly prone to job-related stress, risk developing personal problems, anxiety, psychosis, schizophrenia and multiple personality disorders. In fact, 10 per cent of mental health problems are related to work and social life.

Dr Chua said people who did not know how to channel their emotions, pent-up frustrations, anxiety and depression often end up turning to drugs and psychotropic pills.

He added that gambling was also a part of manifestation of anxiety.

“People who suffer mental health also turn to Ecstasy pills, drug addiction, rape, incest and even commit crimes,” he added.

Dr Chua said depression leading to suicide topped the list worldwide with more people being killed than all the wars combined in any one year.

“It is estimated that 65 per cent of non-communicable disease in the world can be prevented, including mental health.”

To meet the increasing number of mental health cases, the Ministry would build two new mental hospitals, one costing RM300 million to replace the Permai Hospital in Tampoi, Johor, and another costing RM400 million to be constructed in Aman Jaya, Kedah.

Besides Tampoi, the other mental hospitals are the Bahagia Hospital in Tanjung Rambutan, Perak, and one each in Sabah and Sarawak. There are 108 family medicine specialists (FMS) under the Ministry trained to diagnose, treat and manage patients with mental disorder.

Until April, 52 FMS were trained in the diagnosis and treatment of depression.

Dr Chua said the Ministry would be working closely with the media, Education Ministry, NGOs, publications and politicians to make health promotion one of their activities.

“When we conducted a survey, it came as a surprise to us that 76 per cent of Malaysians were concerned about their health but did not know how to maintain their health.

“They did not know much about healthy eating and living, stress management and, most of all, where to get health-related information,” he added.

He said the survey also revealed that many did not read and that was why the Ministry has decided to give emphasis to promotion of health and on preventive aspects of health under the Ninth Malaysia Plan.

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