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The stigma and discrimination associated with mental health and care are among the main obstacles preventing access to good treatment and mental care treatment, said Health Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa.

In a statement today in conjunction with World Mental Health Day, celebrated on Oct 10, she said this negative perception must be stopped, and individuals having mental health issues need to be encouraged to seek treatment just like any other physical illness.

She said the Ministry of Health (MoH) has established a National Mental Health Crisis Help Line or HEAL Line 15555 to ease the community's access to mental health support services and tele-counselling.

After being in operation for nearly a year, a total of 26,139 calls have been received of which 16,942 clients or 65 per cent have received emotional support while 9,197 clients or 35 per cent have received specific intervention by psychological counselling officers, she said.

Citing National Morbidity and Health Survey (NHMS) data which found that one in four teenagers experienced symptoms of depression in 2022 compared to one in five teenagers in 2019, Dr Zaliha said it shows an increasing trend of mental health problems especially in children and teenagers.

"MoH will continue its commitment to provide good mental health services to all levels of society," she said, adding that the direction of the country's mental health services will be improved through a digitalisation platform approach.

Source: BERNAMA News Agency