According to Dr. Zaliha Mustafa, the prevalence of mental health issues among teenagers is increasing, a rise from the 1 in 5 reported in 2019.
When discussing health, many individuals tend to prioritise physical health over mental well-being.
However, recent times have shown a growing number of people facing mental health challenges like depression, general anxiety disorders, panic, and sleep disturbances.
These issues are often influenced by various factors, including environmental conditions.
Typically, mental health concerns are associated with working adults. However, it is crucial to recognize that today’s adolescents are not exempt from experiencing such disturbances.
1 in 4 Adolescents Experience Depression, as Per the National Health and Morbidity Survey (NHMS) 2022
Based on the findings of the National Health and Morbidity Survey (NHMS) 2022, one out of every four teenagers in Malaysia exhibits symptoms of depression.
Health Minister Dr. Zaliha Mustafa reports that the trend of mental health issues among adolescents is on the rise, with 1 in 4 now experiencing depression, compared to 1 in 5 in 2019.
The survey also indicates that adolescent girls are twice as likely to experience depression as boys.
Challenges of Stigma and Discrimination Surrounding Mental Health
Addressing this issue comes with major challenges, particularly the stigma and discrimination associated with mental health.
These factors hinder access to appropriate mental health care and treatment.
“It is crucial to end these negative perceptions. Individuals dealing with mental health issues should be encouraged to seek treatment, just as they would for any other physical ailment,” Dr. Zaliha emphasises.
The Role of Everyone in Assisting Those Affected
According to Dr. Zaliha, all stakeholders, especially families and communities, play a pivotal role in supporting, encouraging, and helping individuals dealing with mental health issues seek professional assistance.
Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) also contribute significantly by raising awareness about mental health issues through community outreach activities.
“The Ministry of Health (MOH) remains committed to enhancing access to quality mental healthcare services,” she assures.
MOH Collaborates With Various Agencies to Develop Mental Health Policies
Dr. Zaliha highlights that the MOH collaborates with government agencies, private organisations, and NGOs to formulate policies and initiate programs and community-level advocacy activities.
“Our nation’s mental healthcare services will undergo further improvements through digital platforms. A comprehensive effort is required to eliminate the stigma associated with individuals facing mental health problems or illnesses,” she concludes.
MOH Launches the HEAL Support Line
In 2022, MOH established the Mental Health Crisis Assistance Line known as the HEAL Line (15555), specially designed for individuals seeking mental health support and tele-counselling services.
Since its inception on October 21, 2022, the National Center of Excellence for Mental Health (NCEMH) has received a total of 26,139 calls.
Of this number, 65% or 16,942 individuals received emotional support, while the remaining 35% or 9,197 underwent specific interventions with Counselling Psychologists.
The HEAL line is managed by Counselling Psychologists from MOH and operates daily, including public holidays, from 8:00 AM to 12:00 AM.
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