Social stigma barrier to mental health patients seeking help

Dr Jack Wong

By Jaythaleela K

MIRI, Feb 20: The social stigma or taboo that has been associated with mental illness should be stopped in order to help people with mental illnesses seek help without feeling ashamed.

“We don’t call people with mental health illness as ‘gila’— it’s a very huge spectrum,” opined Miri Hospital director Dr Jack Wong.

In fact, he added, mental health disorders are a great public concern throughout the world.

“Mental health is a state of emotional, psychological and social well-being or an absence of mental illness,”he pointed out.

He added, in Malaysia, it is expected that mental illness will be the second highest form of health problem affecting Malaysians after heart disease by 2020.

Speaking at the launching of ‘Galeri Minda’ at Mentari Miri in Tanjong Lobang earlier today, he also revealed some findings about mental health from the Malaysia National Health and Morbidity Survey 2015.

Also present were Miri Mayor Adam Yii, MHA Miri patron Norudin Tuah and Dr Akram Salihin, the MO in-charge of Mentari Miri who presented a video on the centre activities.


Mentari Miri is a smart partnership between Miri Hospital and the Miri community reprsented by Miri Mental Health Association (MHA).

Mentari Miri started operations on July 3 last year at Rumah Kenyalang in Tanjong Lobang.

Currently, it is manned by a psychiaritst, a medical officer, a nursing sister, a staff nurse and a volunteer.

It is open on every working Wednesday and Thursday from 8am to 5pm.

Yii (right) appends his signature to the ‘Galeri Minda’ entrance plaque marking the launch.

Meanwhile, Dr Wong said according to findings, the prevalence of mental health problems among adults increased from 10.7 per cent in 1996 to 11.2 per cent in 2006 and to 29.2 per cent in 2015.

“Meaning to say that every three in 10 adults aged 16-year-old and above have some sort of mental health problem,” he said.

Dr Wong added that Malaysia is still in need of more psychiatrists to help address mental health issues.

“There are 360 registered psychiatrists registered in the public and private sectors. The ratio of psychiatrists to the Malaysian population is 200,000 (1:10,000) is recommended by the WHO,” he said.

In Miri, Dr Wong added, its psychiatry department also observed an increase in the number of new cases yearly, from 636 cases in 2014 to 1,195 cases last year.

He lauded MHA for their active participation in promoting mental health well-being here. — DayakDaily