The Health | MAy, 2019
ISSUE: MENTAL HEALTH
Ways to ensure individuals
receive sufficient treatment for
their mental wellbeing:
• Every individual who comes into the public
Profit-driven culture of the workplace can instill huge amount of stress, which can lead to poor mental
health for employees.
in mental health
The Ministry of Health implores employers to take on
responsibility for their employee’s mental health and wellbeing
ccording to Director General of
Health, Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdul-
lah, it is the role of the employer to bring
their employees to a healthcare facility if
they see their mental health is compro-
mised in any way.
“The Ministry of Health (MOH) takes great emphasis
on the mental health matters, and have organised a
program called the Komuniti Sihat Pembina Negara
(KOSPEN Plus). The program is an initiative to build a
more healthier and productive workplace and culture,”
Mental health study
The National Health and Morbidity Survey (NHMS)
organised by MOH in 2015 showed 29.2 percent of
Malaysians from the age of 16 to 32 are facing varying
levels of mental health issues. However, this particular
statistic excludes mental illnesses such as schizophre-
nia or bipolar disorder.
Mental health issues usually occur in an individual
when he or she is faced with emotional disturbances,
10 percent in 2017.
Services are readily available
MOH have seen the importance of mental health and
wellbeing among Malaysians, and have made psychiatry
and mental health services available in four major
mental health institute and 52 government hospitals
Not to mention the referral centres where nurses
and doctors from 958 public clinics (klinik kesihatan)
are well-equipped for mental health screening and
intervention, follow-up treatments for mental health
patients, and psychosocial rehabilitation services.
MOH have also developed 32 Community Mental
Health Centres (MENTARI) nationwide to provide early
detection as well as rehabilitation.
Individuals are trained in vocational skills such
as cooking as a way to instill independence. And for
individuals who are of stable mental health state, they
could also be given employment opportunities as well.
The factors contributing to
compromised mental health
Chronic illnesses such as diabetes, high blood pressure,
and heart conditions have proven to correlate with
mental health issues such as depression. Furthermore,
these factors will be in more effect if the individual has
poor coping skills.
“Even though the government have been providing
services and treatment for mental health issues, the
effects of the stigma surrounding them have prevented
some to come forth and share the problems they have.
This goes for the families as well, as some may feel
ashamed of their own family member who are strug-
gling with mental health issues.”
“The stigmatization of mental health may come in
the form of mystic beliefs and paranormal intervention,
which unfortunately still lives in our society today,”
laments Dr Noor Hisham.
“Lack of understanding and access may also become
factors as to why many are still being left untreated and
unsupported,” he adds.
What KOSPEN is all about
The program comprises six scopes, which includes;
health eating, no-smoking culture, active lifestyle,
proper bodyweight management, health screenings,
and mental health.
“One of the scopes of KOSPEN Plus greatly takes
into account the role of employers in mental health
management at the workplace. Therefore the need
for proper training for employers is present as it can
provide them with sufficient knowledge and awareness
on mental health in the workplace. It can also teaches
them to look for early signs of mental health issues and
the preventative steps to be taken.”
Dr Noor Hisham also presses the need for some type
of monitoring process to ensure employers are playing
their part adequately as well.
clinic (klinik Kesihatan) and are suspected to
experience any kind of mental health issues
needs to be referred to the family medicine
The specialist in family medicine will consult
and treat the individual as they see fit, and will
refer them to a psychiatrist if need be.
The individual who are referred to a
psychiatrist must undergo consultation and
treatment as per the psychiatrist’s evaluation
of mental health.
Treatment may include medication,
psychotherapy, and assisted therapy.
Besides therapy and medication, individuals
would also need sufficient amount of
counselling, psychosocial rehabilitation, as
referral to therapists and social treatment
For individuals with mental health issues
but are deemed stable, they will need to do
routine follow-ups at their local public clinics
Dr Noor Hisham, representing the Ministry of
Health, implores better workplace culture, healthier
lifestyle, and more responsibility by employers
towards their employees.
or when there’s a feeling inside which affects their
daily functions and routine. Not to the point where
psychological symptoms appear however.
Mental health issues usually occurs more among
women (30.8 percent) than men (27.6 percent).
More alarming however, is when MOH have done
similar survey among schoolchildren aged between
13 and 17 in 2017, they found that 18.3 percent of
them are depressed. Suicidal tendencies among these
youths had also risen, from 7.9 percent in 2012 to
Does poor mental health
contribute to crime?
Dr Noor Hisham firmly believes that no, poor or
compromised mental health does not lead to crime or
“Studies have shown that the majority of individu-
als performing acts of violence and terrorism are not
affected by any forms of mental illnesses (American
Psychiatric Association, 1994). On the contrary, many
of the mentally-ill have become the victims of crime
and violence instead,” he stresses.
In regards to cases involving violence against indi-
viduals, it has been found to not involve people with
mental illnesses, but are traced back to factors such as
substance abuse and alcohol. — The Health