Wednesday, July 28

Mental disease still a stigma — Psychiatrist

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KUCHING: Mental health remains a stigma to many as it is not well discussed in society compared to other physical diseases, said Sarawak General Hospital (SGH) child psychiatrist Dr Selvasingam Ratnasingam.

Dr Selvasingam, who is the organising chairman of SGH Psychiatric Department Open Day and Mental Health Day 2012, said the subject had remained a stigma not only among under-developed countries but also developed countries.

“One of the fundamental points we must realise where mental health is concerned is that mental diseases in many ways are very different from physical diseases.

“If you talk about physical diseases, people are very interested in knowing and participate in discussion but when it comes to mental health, wherever you go, even if you go to developed countries maybe other than the US, there is still stigma,” he said during his welcoming address yesterday.

Dr Selvasingam stated that despite the stigma, there were many people out there who were willing to work hard to promote understanding of mental health in society.

“It is important that we understand how important it is to have good mental health and the importance of the brain to the whole body. Actually, the one that regulates and organises the whole human being is the brain and if we neglect it then you can’t have a wholesome human being,” he stressed.

Dr Selvasingam revealed that unlike physical illnesses, mental illnesses usually strike victims during their prime.

“If the mental illness is one of the serious illnesses then the victims will no longer be productive for the rest of their lives and they will need a lot of resources to take care of themselves,” he said.

“We need to understand that these illnesses strike and they usually destroy the victims in their prime so the amount of resources you need to put in is humongous and huge even for children,” he added.

Dr Selvasingam added that due to the huge amount of resources involved, people usually would not do anything.

“I think if we slowly understand the importance of our mind and the importance of proper functioning of our brains then all the mental health works and all the rest of the things we do for our patients and ourselves will go way ahead,” he said.