Sarawak to host Mental Health First Aid course in Bintulu

Fatimah (seated centre) in a group photo after the MPS meeting.

KUCHING, Jan 7: The Malaysian Mental Health Association (MHA) has launched the Malaysian version of the Australian Mental Health First Aid course and will commence its first pilot project in Sarawak.

Welfare, Community Wellbeing, Women, Family and Childhood Development Minister Datuk Seri Fatimah Abdullah revealed today that the Social Development Council (MPS) will host a pilot programme called ‘Mental Health Intervention’ in Bintulu this year.

Collaborating with MHA, the programme will be divided into three components: mental health first aid course, gatekeepers’ suicidal prevention training, and community mental health literacy.

“This course teaches adults how to recognise early people developing mental health problems, experiencing a worsening of an existing condition or in a period of crisis and how to assist until appropriate professional help is received.

“It is different to the psychological first aid some of you may have been trained in which is geared to helping people affacted by major disaster,” Fatimah said after chairing the first MPS meeting today.

She also shared the findings from the National Health and Morbidity Survey (NHMS) 2015 by the Health Ministry, that shows one out of three Malaysians have mental health issues, and 29 per cent are below the age of 16.

“Sarawak is now the fourth highest in Malaysia for the most number of mental health issues. Prevalence in mental health is at 35.8 per cent and the highest is among the rural Bumiputera Sarawakians, aged 16 and above. The state also recorded an alarming 16 per cent in children under the age of 15 who have mental health issues,” Fatimah added.

NHMS 2017 also stated that 10 per cent of secondary school students in Sarawak are feeling lonely most of the time or always, while a total of 7.7 per cent of students are unable to sleep most of the time or always due to worry.

In the past 12 months, prior to the survey, suicidal ideation (10.9 per cent), plan (7.9 per cent) and attempt (8.8 per cent) were reported.

Meanwhile, MPS will also organise a programme on mental health issues in conjunction with Mental Health month this October. — DayakDaily