HANDBOOK TO PROMOTE LITERACY ON MENTAL HEALTH CARE
DEC 15, 2019 @ 5.20PM
(From left) Dr Jerusha Naidoo; Country Medical Director of Pfizer Malaysia, Datuk Seri Dr Haji Dzulkefly Ahmad; Minister of Health, Dr Ng Chong Guan; Deputy President of Malaysian Mental Health Association; and Dr Hazli Zakaria President of Malaysian Psychiatric Association flip through the mental health handbook.
The Malaysian Psychiatric Association (MPA), Malaysian Mental Health Association (MMHA) and Pfizer Malaysia jointly launched a new Mental Health Handbook aimed at enabling the community to recognize the signs and symptoms of mental health issues and seek professional help early.
“Mental health literacy is crucial in helping to identify early warning signs and symptoms, treating and managing mental disorders. Mental health problems affect 1 in 3 and validated knowledge for the community is one of the most important steps to promote greater understanding of mental health issues. The Mental Health Handbook, which is jointly developed through a private-public partnership, provides an invaluable and credible resource guide to help deal with mental health issues,” said Datuk Seri Dr Haji Dzulkefly Ahmad, the Minister of Health Malaysia, during the official launch ceremony.
Mental health handbook
Written for easy-reading and supplemented with rich visuals, this practical handbook is packed in a concise format with well-defined sections on four mental disorders: depression, anxiety, bipolar and schizophrenia. In addition, there is important information on how to reach out to someone with mental health problems, steps to manage one’s mental well-being, and a useful directory listing of mental health services. The handbooks will be distributed to universities, patients and communities in digital format.
“Understanding the barriers to the help-seeking methods is an important step towards facilitating prompt access to mental health services and improving psychological well-being,” said Dr Hazli Zakaria, President of MPA.
“It is important to know that mental illness is treatable. Mental disorders encompass a broad range of problems with different symptoms. One of the key chapters in the handbook discusses how to recognize early warning signs and symptoms of mental illness and when to seek professional help.”
Stigmas connected to obtaining mental health care
Based on the 2019 research survey conducted by MPA, about half of the respondents (50.7%) preferred talking to a friend about their mental health issues, while internet search is the second ranked choice. Among the youths, more than half (65%) of them surveyed would likely use a smartphone application to seek for information on mental health too.
However, those who were surveyed are also worried about mental health stigmas and being treated discriminately for seeking help. More than eight out of ten (85%) are worried that seeking mental health care may affect their career prospects, while one in every two (52%) are deeply concerned about the negative reaction from family and friends. More than two thirds (67%) are embarrassed to seek help.
“It is pertinent for colleges and universities to educate students on how to identify signs and symptoms of mental disorders and offer help. It is also vital to build positive mental well-being and emotional resilience in adolescents and equip them with effective coping techniques to deal with daily challenges and mental stress,” said Associate Professor Dr Ng Chong Guan, the Deputy President of MMHA.
He also pointed out that early intervention is crucial for young people as the National Health and Morbidity Survey in 2017 reported that suicidal thoughts among teenagers aged 13 to 17-year-old have increased from 7.9 per cent in 2012 to 10 per cent in 2017.
“Families, friends and colleagues are often the real first responders to encounter someone suffering from mental illness. As such, we must educate individuals and communities with the right knowledge, skills and support on how to start a conversation with those struggling with mental illness,” said Dr Jerusha Naidoo, Country Medical Director, Pfizer Malaysia.
Dr Naidoo added that improved access to mental health resources, strong peer support and professional guidance will empower more Malaysians to come forward and seek treatment early.
To download a digital copy of the Mental Health handbook, please visit https://www.myhealthmylife.com.my/
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