Tuesday, 10 October 2017

mental health topic in malaysia, is it a taboo?

did you know that mental illness is expected to be the second biggest health problem affecting malaysians by 2020? 

some of you who followed me on instagram would probably notice that i posted a picture of my university id card about a week ago. it's nothing special, just me freaking out to start school. however, that picture has gotten more than 7k likes, which is totally bizarre. i have no idea why so many people liked that picture. was it because of ucl? was it because it says that i'm in the division of psychiatry? i think it's the latter. so today, i feel obligated to do this post. 

in conjunction with the world mental health day 2017, which is on october 10, i feel obligated to write about the topic of mental health so i could raise awareness about it, at the very least. so that people would understand, mental health is a part of our overall health. we cannot turn a blind eye to it. there are more reasons why i want to write this post today, which one would be that i realized people i know/care about are suffering from these issues, albeit some silently. 

so, is mental health a taboo topic in malaysia? definitely yes, though i'm seeing people talk about it more often now on social media which is a good thing. this is despite the fact that 29.2% of malaysian adults are suffering from mental health issues as shown in the national health and morbidity survey 2015. it's sad. i don't want to compare malaysia with united kingdom/america, because we are all different in terms of culture, beliefs, etc. but i know that the low income communities in malaysia especially still have a long way to go in an effort to be educated about mental health issues; how to acknowledge it, accept it, and manage it. 

mental health issues are more than just being 'depressed'. it's the people who would starve for days because they are so scared to gain weight even though their bmi says they are underweight. it's the people who binge-eat like crazy and then forcefully vomit everything out because "i'm unattractive, i don't want to put on weight". it's the people who seriously will not go out from their house because they freak out thinking they would die. it's the people who hear voices saying there are people who would kill them. it's the people who on one day have so much energy they will not even sleep, but have the coming days feeling so low and depressed before they kill themselves. it's the people who see many different versions of themselves. it's so much more...

as individuals, if you notice anything about yourself that is affecting your daily functioning, whether mentally, emotionally, or physically, don't be afraid to reach out. talk about it with someone you trust. get professional help if you have the opportunity to. there is nothing to be ashamed about. 

moreover, as a member of the community, we should acknowledge that the stigma surrounding mental health issues is stopping people from progressing to get help. therefore, we need to do our part in breaking the stigma. if we notice someone struggling, we can at least ask how they are doing. we can listen to them, we can empathize with them too. whenever we hear about people who have physical illnesses like cancer or heart problems, we often sympathize with them. but why is it when we hear people suffering from mental health issues, it's shame or disgust that we usually feel? mental illnesses can take people's lives too. i wish people do not easily dismiss that. let's all do our part in making sure that people get the help they need, before it's too late.

last year i convinced a friend to go see a therapist. he had things bothering his mind and i told him maybe it will help if he just talk about it with a therapist. he was scared, doubtful at first, but he decided to go still. not long after he told me how helpful the sessions are, even though i'm thousands of miles away from him, i could hear him smiling when he said that during our call. i was happy for him too.

you don't need a severe reason to see a therapist. most times, it will be nice to have someone to talk to who will not judge us, regardless what our issues are. so do reach out to these people listed below if you are struggling, having a hard time, or if you just want someone to talk to.

BefriendersKL : +603-79568145 / www.befrienders.org.my
Life Line Association Malaysia : www.lifeline.org.my
Malaysian Mental Health Association : www.mmha.org.my
SOLS Help : www.sols247.org/solshealth
MENTARI Malaysia : http://www.mhinnovation.net/organisations/mentari-malaysia?mode=default%0A_2

i hope you remember that you are no less than your wounds or scars. 
i hope you remember that you are bigger than your mental health issues.
i hope you remember that healing takes time, but you will get better. 

from matt haig's reasons to stay alive

let's all be kind to each other 


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