It’s no secret that mental health problems are on the rise.
According to Malaysia’s 2015 National Health Morbidity Survey, prevalence mental health problems amongst adults were at 29.2%. This was only 10.7% in 1996.
However, there is another incredibly fragile group that’s susceptible to mental health problems; children.
In fact, local suicide hotline, Befrienders has revealed that kids as young as 10 years old are reaching out for help with depression.
The Malaysian Insight reported that young children are sending e-mails to Befrienders and asking for help with their depression that’s mostly related to lack of attention from parents.
Kenny Lim, Executive Director of Befrienders Kuala Lumpur, believes that this is a major problem for many of the nation’s young.
Speaking to The Malaysian Insight, he stressed that this could lead to suicide. He also states that those who commit suicide actually showed tendencies in the early stages of their lives, but it often goes unnoticed.
Kenny also revealed that Befrienders began receiving calls from youths last year and the numbers have been increasing.
This isn’t surprising as the aforementioned National Health Morbidity Survey found that prevalence of mental health problems in children were at 12.1%.
The survey also found that younger children (5-9 years old) showed higher prevalence of mental health problems compared to older children between 10-15 years old.
Mental health problems among children cause distress and can have wide-ranging effects, including impacts on educational attainment and social relationship, as well as affecting life chances and physical health.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), common signs of depression in children and teenagers are:
- Unexplained aches or pains
- Distress during separation from parents
- Loss of interest in usual social/fun activities
- Difficulties with concentration
- Running away from home or talking about running away from home
- Talking about death or dying, giving away (or talking about giving away) favorite possessions, writing goodbye letters
- Sleep increase (or decrease)
- Appetite/weight changes (more likely an increase, in depressed teens)
- Comments indicating hopelessness or low self-worth
For those who need help, feel free to check out TRP’s guide to counselling & mental health therapy services in the Klang Valley HERE.
Parents, you might also appreciate TRP’s article on getting your child to open up emotionally HERE.