Find solutions to overcome mental health issues in children - Lee Lam Thye

05 Nov 2023 11:17pm
Lee Lam Thye
Lee Lam Thye

SHAH ALAM - The government is conducting thorough research on children’s mental health for the public to understand the contributing factors to such issues.

Mental Health Advisor Council member Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye said with the empirical data, the government would be able to form and find solutions to the issues, and the disclosure must be taken seriously as children are the backbone of the nation.

“According to the 2019 National Health and Morbidity Survey (NHMS), a total of 424,000 children struggle with the problem, while one in four teens suffers from depression and one in ten has attempted to take their own lives.

“I welcome Health Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa’s announcement regarding the Health Ministry, Education Ministry, and other agencies’ initiatives to overcome this issue among children and teens.

Lee added that parents play an important role in developing the mental wellbeing of children, so they must be aware of such matters.

According to NHMS2022, only 24.2 per cent felt that parents could understand their worries and problems.

“Children must have a safe space to speak regarding their emotions without fear of being judged; parents must speak and understand emotions, not just reprimanding them.

“I have faced situations where children were not allowed to receive professional help as parents were ashamed or did not believe such matters,” he explained.

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He added that the Education Ministry should also cooperate with higher education institutes to ensure trained counsellors could perform practicums and practicals at schools.

Lee added that teachers must be equipped with basic mental health knowledge, such as the capacity to identify students suffering from issues as well as the expertise to provide emotional support.

“The role of classmates or peer mentors must be established in schools, as some children are comfortable discussing with their peers.

“Mentors within the same age range could become an important bridge between students and could provide the necessary help,” he explained.

Lee emphasised that mental health is the responsibility of everyone and should not only be prioritised during the month of October, but also be a daily focus for the public.

“Let’s come together to improve our children's mental health,” he said.