Need to provide better mental health care in schools - Lee Lam Thye

PETALING JAYA, Oct 10 (Bernama) -- Schools in the country need more counsellors with psychological skills along with good mental health development programmes to help the increasing numbers of youngsters experiencing stress-related symptoms such as anxiety and depression.

The Patron of the Malaysian Psychiatric Association (MPA), Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye said students not only have to face peer pressure but also have to live up to family expectations like obtaining excellent results in studies and not to mention the challenges they face in fitting into the society.

“Dilemmas faced by young adults at present appear to have wide-ranging social and economic implications, with a rising number of them being diagnosed with depression, anxiety or other mental health problems.

"The Education Ministry should look into ways to help students overcome mental health issues such as setting up a committee because we do not want to see students committing suicide or having suicidal thoughts,” he said at a press conference in conjunction with World Mental Health Day 2018 celebration and Mental Illness Awareness and Support Association (MIASA)’s first anniversary, here, today.

Lee, who is also the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) chairman, said the government has to promote mental health as its main agenda including coming up with ways to build mental resilience among youth besides training more psychologists.

Meanwhile, MIASA president and founder Anita Abu Bakar suggested the ‘Program Minda Sihat’ for students be reviewed as the screening of mental issues should be done as soon as the children exit the primary school and not at 16 like done under the programme.

“My personal opinion is that it is too late to do health screening for students at the age of 16. Nearly 70 per cent of those in the adolescent and young adult group have mental health problems including 34 per cent from the age of 16 to 19 and 31 per cent from the age of 20 to 24,” she said.

She also pointed out that counsellors need to be trained more effectively on privacy and ethical conduct because students want to feel safe when they communicate with counsellors or teachers.




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