Health minister: Malaysians must be able to talk about mental health openly

Azril Annuar
Health Minister Datuk Seri Dzulkefly Ahmad is pictured in Parliament in Kuala Lumpur July 18, 2019. — Picture by Mukhriz Hazim

KUALA LUMPUR, July 18 — Datuk Seri Dzulkefly Ahmad encouraged Malaysians to voice their views on mental illness in a healthy discourse and not view the matter as a stigma.

The health minister told the Dewan Rakyat today that the government was concerned over increasing mental health issues especially among youths who could be suffering in silence.

“The challenges faced in dealing with the ongoing problem of mental health is very worrying. This is especially so following the recent case where a teenager took her own life based on an Instagram poll,” said Dzulkefly.

In his reply to a question raised by Datuk Hassan Baharom (PH-Tampin), the minister added that part of the plans to address the issue is a new mental health campaign to be held every October known as “Let’s Talk Malaysia”.

The campaign will involve the relevant government agencies and NGOs to educate and build awareness among the public on the importance of mental health while reducing or eliminating the stigma associated to the disease for those seeking professional medical help.

Studies have shown that depression, anxiety and stress affect around 42 per cent of women compared to around 18 to 19 per cent for men.

When it comes to adolescents, he said that one in five are depressed (17.7 per cent girls and 18.9 per cent boys), two in five are anxious (42.3 per cent girls and 37.1 per cent boys) and one in 10 are stressed (10.3 per cent girls and 8.9 per cent boys).

At the same time, he also told the Lower House that his ministry will launch the National Strategic Action Plan Mental Health (2019 - 2025) in September.

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