KUALA LUMPUR: More Malaysian students are suffering from mental health problems now, with nearly half of them showing emotional and aggressive symptoms.

Malaysian Psychiatric Associa-tion vice-president Dr Abdul Kadir Abu Bakar said one of the main factors affecting students were bullying.

“Victims of bullying tend to have serious mental problems as they grow up, if there is no proper counselling.

“The number of mental health patients aged 18 and below has also increased from 13.7% in 1996 to almost 20% in 2006,” he said at the 14th Malaysian Conference on Psychological Medicine here yesterday (19/6/2009).

He urged parents and teachers to pay more attention to the changes in their children’s behaviour.

Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said 400,227 mental patients sought treatment at the government hospitals last year, an increase of 15.6% compared with 346,196 people in 2007.

“The increase in stress levels and complex social responsibilities are among factors causing more people to develop mental disorders,” he said, adding that more women than men tend to suffer from mental disorders.

Among the mental problems, anxiety is most common in the country, followed by depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.

Liow said suicide had also become a serious public health problem worldwide, with one death every 40 seconds.

“In Malaysia, the suicide rate now is between 9 and 12 cases per 100,000 people,” he said, adding the rate among Indians was alarming at between 30 and 35 cases per 100,000 people.

“Mental patients must be rehabilitated and integrated into the community,” he said in his speech read by the ministry’s Medical Development Division director Datuk Dr Azmi Shapie.

A clinical practice guidelines on the Management of Schizophrenia in Adults was also launched at the event.

Dr Azmi said family members played an important role in the recovery process of mental patients.

“Medication can only control their illness as they need the support from family and friends to help them recover and return to society,” he said.

Source: The Star Online