Mental Health Promotion Advisory Council member Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye said Malaysia is currently lacking in numbers of psychiatrists with only 360 of them being registered in both public and private healthcare sectors. File pix by IQMAL HAQIM ROSMAN.

KUALA LUMPUR: Mental Health Promotion Advisory Council has urged the government to provide more registered psychiatrists to cater to the needs in public and private healthcare in the country.

Its member Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye said Malaysia is currently lacking in numbers of psychiatrists with only 360 of them being registered in both sectors.

“Psychiatrists are trained medical doctors. They can prescribe medications while psychologists focus extensively on psychotherapy and treating emotional and mental suffering in patients with behavioural intervention.

“The government must find ways to encourage more experts in this field as we need about 3,000 psychiatrists in order to achieve the ratio set by World Health Organisation (WHO),” he said in a statement today.

He said the ratio of psychiatrists to the total population in the country is 1:200,000, which is much lower than then 1:10,000 recommended by WHO.

Lee also said that violent behaviour and suicidal tendency among youths could also be associated with mental health problems.

He said the recent statistics in violent crimes was alarming and should be taken seriously.

“While there is an overall reduction in crime index, police statistics show that violent crimes rose by 2.4 per cent when 22,326 cases were reported last year compared with 21,810 cases in 2015.

“According to a research by Befrienders KL, it said that suicide is also the second leading cause of death for youths between the age of 15 and 29 in Malaysia,” said Lee.

The government and the community at large could not remain silent and must address the issue, especially the mental disorder stigma, he added.