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More teens have mental illness

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WORRYING TREND: Students with psychological problems on the rise

.KUALA LUMPUR: THE Health Ministry plans to set up more mental health clinics to deal with the rising number of  mental health problems among children, aged 15 and below.

Deputy Health Minister Datuk Seri Rosnah Abdul Rashid Shirlin said a study of schools nationwide showed that both rural and urban students were equally stressed and often, the situation led to them developing mental health problems.

"The ministry had started a nationwide screening in schools through health clinics as we are concerned with the rising statistics," she told the New Straits Times yesterday.

It was reported recently that the ministry's statistics showed a rise in the number of young sufferers from 13 per cent in 1996, to 20 per cent last year.

Rosnah said the problem had also led to a rising number of suicides among young Malaysians.

"The screening will be done in schools and we will recommend treatment for those who show mental health symptoms."

She said mental health screenings were conducted in clinics nationwide and the serious cases were referred to hospitals that offered psychiatric treatment.

Through the Mental Health Promotion Advisory Council set up in 2010, the ministry also carried out intervention programmes in creating public awareness, prevention and early detection, treatment and psychological help.

She said sufferers seemed to experience a high level of stress not only during the examination period, but throughout the year.

Mental Health Promotion Advisory Council member Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye said mental health problems, especially mental stress, deserved the same attention as any other health problems.

"Various activities can be carried out by schools to promote mental health, including talks, exhibitions and quizzes or contests as extra- curricular activities," he said in a statement.

He also urged the need for more trained counsellors to assist students in handling pressure, or stress.

"We can't deny that the education system is exam-oriented, resulting in parents pressuring their children to excel."


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