Lam Thye: Children’s mental health shouldn’t be overlooked


Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye

KUALA LUMPUR: Mental health issues in children need to be acknowledged and addressed properly, said Befrienders Kuala Lumpur patron Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye.

He said although there have been intensive discussions on mental health in the last few years, most of them focused on adult’s mental well-being.

“This is good considering how mental illness is such a taboo subject. It is time for us to acknowledge the importance of mental health for both adults and children.

“According to the National Health and Morbidity Survey 2019, a total of 424,000 children were found to be struggling with mental health issues. This is a great concern to all of us and this issue needs to be addressed properly as children are our future and our hope,” he said in a statement here yesterday.

Lee said the ability to recognise that a child needed help was crucial as early intervention could improve their well-being, and with proper care and treatment, most mental health issues could be treated.

He stressed that parents should play their role in ensuring their children’s mental well-being, including providing a conducive environment at home which is filled with love and care, and also encouraging healthy conversation by listening actively and allowing them to talk without being judgmental and critical.

“They would be more open to talk about their problems, including difficult and uncomfortable feelings, and reaching out for help whenever they encounter difficulties in the future.

“If you are concerned about your child’s mental health, please reach out for help, speak to a professional, such as to psychiatrist or counsellor,” he said and adding that the Befrienders Kuala Lumpur offers emotional support to anyone feeling distressed or suicidal, by calling their 24-hour helpline 03-7627 2929.

Lee said healthy environment in the school was also very important as children spend a long period of time at school and they needed to be equipped with skills on how to manage stress efficiently, problem-solving skills as well as skills to build resilience.

He added that incorporating these elements into the school syllabus could help improve mental health in children while teaching staff could help make the school a safer place by keeping an eye on any bullying incident as it could severely affect a child’s mental health and in some extreme cases, could even lead to suicide.

“Children go through many constant changes in their upbringing, such as going to a new school, meeting new friends and all these can make them feel stressful or anxious,” he said, adding that learning about the symptoms and early signs of mental distress would play a part in the preventive efforts. — Bernama