Bandar Kuching MP to push Parliament to address mental health issues

Dr Kelvin Yii

KUCHING, Oct 10: Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii will push the Parliament to address the country’s concerning mental health issues in the Budget Parliamentary session scheduled this November.

He said, in a press statement today, the impact of mental health conditions is not merely a health situation as it could potentially affect against the nation’s economy with mental health conditions experienced at workplaces estimated to cost the Malaysian economy RM14.46 billion in 2018.

“This show the urgency of the matter and that is why much has to be done especially for greater investment in mental health to increase accessibility to all,” said Dr Yii, adding he would be pushing four specific matters, namely the need for greater funds into mental health, to review the Section 309 of the Penal Code, reviving the National Mental Health Registry (NHMR), and the need for a National Post-Pandemic Mental Health Plan.

“First, is the greater investment into mental health especially the need to increase mental health professionals especially in our public system including better infrastructures and accessibility, more training for mental health professionals, para-professionals and allied partners like non governmental organisations, welfare departments and school counselors.

“Expansion of our mental health facilities, specialised mental institutions and Mentari initiatives. There is an urgent need to ensure investment is prioritised so that Malaysia has adequate capacity to manage both the immediate post-pandemic mental health issues, and also to stay vigilant in preparation for possibly future mental health crises.

“Secondly, I will continue to push in the Parliament on the urgent need to repeal Section 309 to decriminalise attempted suicide. Thirdly is to revive the NHMR to ensure comprehensive coverage of mental disorders, regular updates and monitoring and independence of the registry within the healthcare system.

“Such registry must also be monitored and acted upon by a cross-ministry action committee to process the data and, more importantly, come up with comprehensive and holistic measures to address the rise of mental health conditions in our society especially during this pandemic and post-pandemic period.

“Fourthly, the need for a National Post-Pandemic Mental Health Plan to properly address the rise of mental health cases caused by the pandemic and extensive plans to help us recover both physically and mentally to promote greater productivity among our people to recover and rebuild our country,” he said.

Dr Yii also noted about 424,000 Malaysian children were found to have mental health problems including anxiety and depression, as the current Covid-19 pandemic has an unprecedented impact on the mental health of millions and is also expected to exacerbate the situation caused by the economic fallout of the pandemic and the movement control order (MCO).

He said the level of anxiety, fear, isolation, social distancing and restrictions, uncertainty and emotional distress experienced have become widespread as the world struggles to bring the virus under control and to find solutions.

“As we are at war to flatten the curve of Covid-19 infections, there may be another bomb waiting to explode which is the “silent mental illness pandemic”.

“The impact of mental health conditions is not merely a health situation, but it has potentially affected the nation’s economy,” he added. –DayakDaily.