Alarming mental health issues in teens

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There is an alarming spike in the number of teenagers and children in Malaysia who are contemplating suicide.

Malaysia Mental Health Asso­ciation (MMHA) president Datuk Dr Andrew Mohanraj said the youngest was a nine-year-old.

“The child attempted suicide because of bullying on Facebook,” he said.

“Parents should take it upon themselves to control their children’s access to social media to prevent such incidents.”

were specific requirements, such as the permissible age, when registering for a Facebook account.

“These parents let their children open social media accounts and don’t monitor what’s going on probably because they themselves are addicted to it,” he said.

He added that there was a spike in the number of teen depression, attempted suicides and self-harm being handled by private and government psychiatric services here.

Dr Andrew said currently specific data on depression in children and teenagers was not tabulated or made available in Malaysia.

He said given the gravity of the matter, specific sampling and survey methodology should be created to ascertain the numbers.

However, Dr Andrew said the 2015 national morbidity survey showed 29.2% of Malaysians aged 16 and above had some form of mental health issues.

“This is a three-fold jump from a similar survey done by KKM a decade earlier,” he said, referring to the Health Ministry.

“This means three out of 10 Malaysians need some form of psychological help.”

Dr Andrew said the increase could be attributed to various factors, including poor school performance.

“Some families have unrealistic educational expectations of their children.

“The socio-economic status of families caused by parents losing their jobs can also affect the mental health of their teenage children leading to depression,” said Dr Andrew.

He said teenagers coming from broken families were more susceptible to developing depression.

Dr Andrew said parents who noticed prolonged sadness and isolation in their children should immediately be on their guard.

“You might find your teenage child closing his or her bedroom door and staying in there for hours.

“Some might become more irritable and seem to be overtly engrossed on social media, putting up melancholic comments and statements.

“These are the tell-tale signs,” warned Dr Andrew.

Those in trouble or in need of someone to talk to can call the Befrienders KL at 03-7957 1306, 04-281 5161/1108 in Penang, 05-5477 933/955 in Ipoh or e-mail sam@befrienders.org.my.

Befrienders are multiracial, non-religious and are available to everyone, regardless of race, religion, age, gender or sexual orientation.

All volunteers are trained and each conversation is treated as strictly confidential.

You may remain completely anonymous, keeping your name private.

In view of this, he added, the MMHA has always reached out to the general public to promote mental healthcare.

"We have been organising various programmes to engage the general public and this year the MMHA will be holding the Mind Run & Carnival 2018 on Oct 6 at Technology Park Malaysia in Bukit Jalil, Kuala Lumpur," said Dr Andrew.

He said the carnival promises to be a food and fun-filled event with various other activities as well.


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