Society must reject stigma against people with mental health issues

KUALA LUMPUR: Society must discard its stigma against people with mental health problems because such an attitude only makes it more difficult for these people to come forward for treatment, said an expert.

Dr Uma Visvalingam, a consultant psychiatrist at Putrajaya Hospital, said there was prejudice against them because most people had misconceptions about their condition.

“They do not really understand the difference between mental illness and mental health problems. The two conditions have different medical approaches.

“People are quick to judge and say they (mental health patients) are crazy, when they actually require monitoring by psychiatrists,” she said as a guest on the ‘Dalam Radar’ show aired on Bernama Radio last night.

Talking on the subject ‘Mental Illness: How Much You Should Know?’, Dr Uma explained that those suffering from mental health problems were not yet at a critical level, and consultation sessions could help alleviate their problems.

She said those suffering from mental illness, on the other hand, had to go through a consultation process and take continuous medication, and took a longer time to be treated.

The National Health and Morbidity Survey 2015 showed that 29.2 per cent of adults in the country suffered from mental health problems, she said, adding that the percentage might be higher this year.

“Such cases are on the rise because many do not know how to deal with mental health problems and they do not take it seriously,” she said.

Dr Uma pointed out that mental health problems could be detected at an early stage through signs such as chronic depression, losing interest in daily work, as well as disruption to eating and sleeping schedules.

“Ideally, the individual concerned should see a psychiatrist to be treated and prevent the problem from lingering,” she said, adding that moral support from family and friends also played an important role in curbing the problem. –BERNAMA

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