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Pay more attention to mental health

Date: 12 September 2013

I WRITE to highlight the growing need for greater awareness, compassion and action by the public as well as by the relevant authorities on the issue of mental health.

Not enough attention is being paid to this because mental health and mental illness are not something people feel comfortable to talk about or even discuss in some depth.

There is still far too much shame, guilt and stigma attached to mental health.

Of late, we have read news reports and seen television coverage of mass shootings in a few US cities and campuses.

While many seem to think it is an issue related to the easy availability of guns in that country based on the right to bear arms in their constitution, some are arguing that this phenomenon is really because of mental illness suffered by the perpetrators.

In other words, they say that there should be more efforts towards offering better mental health services in the states, cities and counties.

Closer to home too, we seem to read about more and more cases of suicides and this involves all classes of people.

It is not just labourers or blue collar workers who take their lives. There are also cases of professionals and academics who have resorted to this when their situations were not recognised and acted upon with a sense of urgency.

In addition, when a person runs amok, a student is repeatedly bullied beyond his or her endurance or an office worker is unfairly treated over a period of time, resentment boils over and explodes.

There have been a number of such incidents in Malaysia.

All these seem to suggest that we should do more for mental health and the well-being of our citizens.

It is good to have development and material progress but we should not overlook the mental health issues facing our people.

It is in this context I welcome and applaud the initiative of the Malaysian Mental Health Association, which recently conducted a successful two-day Capacity Building Workshop in Kuala Lumpur.

Much more needs to be done by other similar NGOs and community service clubs in the various states. CONCERNED

Petaling Jaya

This article was first published in on 4 February 2013.

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