Posted on February 13, 2012, Monday
SIBU: Stigmatisation is keeping those with mental health problems away from treatment, causing their conditions to deteriorate with some ending up in tragedy.
A member of the Mental Health Advisory Council, Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye lamented yesterday that the incident of a lecturer taking her own life in Kuching was the latest series of tragic incidents in the country, arising from mental health problems, which could have been avoided with proper treatment.
The society, stressed Lee, should learn to accept those with mental health problems like those with another health problem instead of seeing them in the negative light.
As such, both the government and employers need to accord more emphasis on mental health issues before they snowball into a more pressing social concern.
“Many a time those with mental health problems fear seeking help as they are concerned that their friends or colleagues might shy away from them upon learning about their conditions.
“And when they do not seek treatment, their conditions will deteriorate, leading to serious consequences with some ending up in tragedies. Mental health is treatable and the society should make concerted effort to make treatment accessible to patients,” he told The Borneo Post.
He was asked to comment on a lecturer with a public higher institution of learning who was found dead in the kitchen of her home last week, said to be suffering from depression.
He reckoned that the incident in Kuching would not be the last if measures were not taken to resolve the problem, adding that the tragedy could have been avoided had she got proper treatment.
“There needs to be an awakening among the society and drop the stigma that makes treatment inaccessible to patients. They should not construe that all psychiatric cases are associated with violence.
“And there is certainly no reason to stop being their friends,” he clarified.
In so doing, patients would be encouraged to come forward to seek treatment and not afraid to be identified, he pointed out.
Touching on the solutions to mental health problems, Lee said mental disorder was treatable while patients need to be alerted to the signs to seek proper treatment.
“The more serious ones should be referred to psychiatric ward in the hospitals while those with mild symptoms be referred to psychologists for counselling,” he suggested.
According to Lee, psychiatrists would prescribe medication to help the patients.
In this regard, close family members need to ensure that patients take their medications regularly, he said.
Lee stressed that the emphasis was for the government and employers find ways to help those staff having mental health problems.