Worsening mental health of M’sian students a real concern


KUALA LUMPUR: Health Ministry statistics reveal a worsening state of mental health problems among Malaysian students, from one in 10 individuals in 2011 to one in five in 2016.

Experts cite anxiety and depression as the main causes of mental health problems among students although not ruling out the influence of drugs as a factor.

One expert, Dr Mohd Suhaimi Mohamad, said a prolonged state of mental health problems could cause students to become withdrawn, suffer from schizophrenia and develop the inclination to commit suicide.

The tendency to take one’s own life could become more severe if the mental health problems were not addressed within a period of two years, he said, adding that this was a serious matter that was often neglected.

Referring to the causes, Dr Mohd Suhaimi listed anxiety as a result of trauma, emotional disorders such as bulimia, developmental disorders such as hyperactivity, behavioural disorders and severe stress due to family problems.

He said anxiety could be attributed to pressure of examinations that could likely instil fear in students.

“Low self-confidence as a result could cause a student to be in a state of worry and stress, coupled with the pressure from parents and teachers who drive them to be competitive.

“Besides studies, the fear of embarrassment over any matter could push students towards extreme consternation,” he told Bernama.

In a state of restlessness, a student would normally experience constant heavy sweating and a pounding heart, inability to sleep at night and insomnia that could take a toll on his or her health if these were to prolong, he said.

“Depression, on the other hand, makes an individual isolate himself or herself from others,” Dr Mohd Suhaimi said, adding that signs of extreme depression were sudden mood changes that led to extreme anger.

This could also occur due to heredity factors inherited from family members with mental health problems, he said.

Dr Mohd Suhaimi did not rule out the possibility of mental health problems stemming from the pressure parents put on children to excel in the academic field.

“Parents should help their children live a normal life and not force them to study solely to meet their own expectations,” he said.

Dr Mohd Suhaimi said that once a child was diagnosed as having a mental health problem, treatment could be administered through the bio-psychosocial way with an individual interacting with the patient so that the latter did not feel isolated and did not act aggressively.

“Besides, the administration of medication regularly can control and prevent a person from sliding towards mental illness,” he said.

He also said that the individual should be given guidance and support by those around him or her, especially parents, to rebuild his or her confidence.

“Parents should extend support and encouragement to children with mental health problems to prevent the condition from worsening,” he said.