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Sarawak raises budget to address mental health problems

Reported in Bernama, the Sarawak government has increased its allocation to the state Ministry of Welfare, Community Wellbeing, Women, Family and Childhood for mental health promotions and activities.

With the increased budget allocation focusing on all aspects of mental health promotion, especially among schoolchildren in building their resilience, chief minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg commented: “This will help to improve mental health and to reduce suicidal behaviour in the development plans for our state.”

Speaking at the opening of the 29th World Congress of The International Association For Suicide Prevention yesterday, Datuk Amar said that the government was particularly concerned about the impact of mental disorders like depression, anxiety, as well as alcohol and drug abuse; since these were important contributors to suicide.

Referencing to the latest National Health and Morbidity Survey, he highlighted that almost 30% of the Malaysian general population experienced mental health problems.

While there might be various reasons for suicide among young people, the chief minister noted that bullying had become an important contributory factor, adding that he was personally very concerned about this.

He said the pressure put upon students to achieve academic excellence contributed to an increased number of suicide cases following the announcement of results of major examinations.

Urging teachers, parents and other relevant agencies to address these issues, he said: “For this they must be adequately trained. The state government will give due consideration to requests for assistance in the pursuit of these goals.”

Datuk Amar also urged academicians and professionals to conduct more research on suicidal behaviour in Sarawak to give a clearer picture of the extent of the problem in the state, its causes and approaches in managing this distressing problem among the people.

Photo / 123RF

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