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Mental Illnesses in Malaysia

Mental health disorders refer to a wide range of mental health conditions affecting mood, thinking and behaviour. In the 2019 National Health Morbidity Survey, some 424,000 Malaysian children struggle with mental health yet many do not come forward to seek help. One in three adults suffers from mental health problems, making mental illnesses the second largest health issue plaguing Malaysians, just after heart disease. Almost half a million people in the population experience depression, and this number has only increased with additional mental and financial pressures brought about by the prolonged pandemic.


Signs & Symptoms 

  • Feeling sad or down

  • Confusion or reduced ability to concentrate

  • Excessive fears or worries, or extreme feelings of guilt

  • Extreme mood changes

  • Withdrawal from friends and activities

  • Significant tiredness, low energy or problems sleeping

  • Detachment from reality (delusions), paranoia or hallucinations

  • Inability to cope with daily problems or stress

  • Trouble understanding and relating to situations and to people

  • Problems with alcohol or drug use

  • Major changes in eating habits

  • Sex drive changes

  • Excessive anger, hostility or violence

  • Suicidal thinking

Types of Mental Illnesses

Here are some examples of mental illnesses:

  1. Major Depressive Disorder (MDD)Characterised by a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest, with clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational and other important areas of functioning.

  2. Bipolar Disorder - Unusual shifts in mood, energy and activity levels.

  3. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) - Where a person has obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviours.

  4. Schizophrenia - A serious psychotic disorder whereby disturbances in cognitive functioning, emotion and behaviour result in abnormal interpretations of reality e.g. hallucinations or delusions.

  5. Schizoaffective Disorder - Marked by a combination of schizophrenia symptoms, such as hallucinations or delusions, and mood disorder symptoms, such as depression or mania.


Prioritizing Your Mental Health

Practice self-care

Do things that you love to support your physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Be it sleeping, exercising or taking a long bath, these will help you relax and maintain your overall happiness.

Learn to say no

Set clear boundaries and be consistent with your schedule. You are only one person and should focus on your priorities.

Work on mindfulness

Meditation takes up only a few minutes of your day yet proves to decrease anxiety, panic and depression. It is also associated with higher levels of happiness.

Connect with loved ones

Humans are social creatures who need to forge fulfilling relationships. Take time to reconnect with your loved ones, or seek out a like-minded community to build new connections.

Getting Support

Should you ever feel helpless and lost, do not hesitate to reach out to these organisations:

  • Malaysia Mental Health Association (MMHA)

  • Mental Illness Awareness and Support Association (MIASA)

  • HumanKind Community Counselling

  • Aloe Mind

  • Befrienders (24/7)

  • Women's Aid Organisation (24/7)

  • Talian Kasih (24/7)

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