MOH and UNICEF calling for stakeholders action on Children’s Mental Health
29 August 2022
Ministry of Health Malaysia with UNICEF launched the Malaysia Country Report and Infographic 2022: Strengthening Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) Systems and Services for Children and Adolescents in the East Asia and Pacific Region
Ministry of Health with UNICEF today launched the Malaysia Country Report and Infographic 2022: Strengthening Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) Systems and Services for Children and Adolescents in the East Asia and Pacific Region. The MHPSSS study was a collaborative effort between the Ministry of Health Malaysia and UNICEF that began in May 2021. Dato’ Dr. Haji Noor Azmi bin Ghazali, Deputy Minister of Health graced the occasion.
Mental health of children and adolescents is amongst the most neglected health issues globally, including East Asia and the Pacific. In Malaysia, young children and teenagers experience a high burden of poor mental health. According to the 2019 National Health Mobility Survey (NHMS), about 424,000 children in Malaysia have mental problems, but many do not come forward to seek for assistance. Of particular worry is that 1 in 8 adolescents aged 10–19, and 1 in 20 children aged 5–9 years are estimated to have a mental disorder including developmental disorder. Notably, suicide was second leading cause of death among adolescents aged 15–19. Among risk factors for poor mental health, exposure to violence, peer victimization and bullying, loneliness and social isolation were particularly prevalent.
The MHPSS research is the first in the Pacific region that focused on children and adolescent up to 18 years old in Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines, and Papua New Guinea. The research was conceptualized by Burnet Institute Australia and sponsored by UNICEF.
Dr Norizan Binti Rosli from Institute for Clinical Research (ICR), National Institute for Health (NIH) Ministry of Health Malaysia lead the Malaysian team with researchers from the Institute for Health Behavioural Research & Institute for Health Management from NIH, psychiatrists from 4 major public hospitals and in collaboration with Professor Marc Archer from Centre for Mental Health and Well-being, HELP University.
The MHPSS report summarizes the consultations and interviews with 124 stakeholders’ from health, justice, social welfare, education sectors including government and non-governmental organisations, UN agencies and youth representatives.
The report highlights key gaps in the current response and challenges on the implementation of MHPSS among children and adolescent, including difficult or limited access to services for mental health problems, lack of empowerment in existing law and policies, deficiencies in communication and coordination between sectors, insufficient funding, lack of trained personal in MHPSS for children and adolescent, limited involvement of end user (youth/parent/ care takers/ other sector) in the planning of mental health programs and monitoring. To address these gaps, a priority package of actions are proposed to offer better accessibility and responsiveness towards mental health conditions. In addition, sectoral lead and specific recommendations are identified to improve the implementation of MHPSS for children and adolescents.
“The Ministry of Health is committed to translating the MHPSS research findings into policy and practice. As we are developing the National Centre of Excellence for Mental Health (NCEMH) MOH urges all stakeholders and experts, from both government and non-governmental agencies, to facilitate greater collaboration and coordination in the implementation of MHPSS for children and adolescents in Malaysia. Poor mental health can have a profound impact on the health, learning and participation of children and adolescents, thus limiting their opportunities to reach their full potential. There is a substantial unmet need for MHPSS for children and adolescents” said Dato’ Dr Haji Noor Azmi bin Ghazali, Deputy Minister of Health I.
The MHPSS conceptual framework in Malaysia provides country-specific recommendations based on evidence for policy and decision-making. Complementing the country report is an infographic designed to disseminate key research findings to the public.
“UNICEF commends the Ministry of Health Malaysia for their swift action and focus in addressing the mental health needs of children and adolescents. Based on the evidence generated by the Report, and the increasing prevalence of mental health conditions among children and adolescents, now more than ever is the time to consider the formation of a National Steering Committee for Children and Adolescents Mental Health, that holds the authority and resources to drive action. Your commitment will change the trajectory of mental health care in Malaysia, that will in turn contribute to the health and prosperity of the nation”, said Christopher Davids, Deputy Representative for UNICEF in Malaysia.
The Ministry of Health is grateful for UNICEF’s support in this research and welcomes their continued support in implementing the research findings and future collaborative research.
29 August 2022
Note to editors:
The report is available online: https://unicef.org/malaysia/reports/strengthening-mental-health-psychosocial-support-systems-services
The research was conceptualized by Burnet Institute Australia, supported by UNICEF, and overseen by both organizations. Malaysia is among four countries in which the research was conducted—Thailand, Philippines, and Papua New Guinea being the others. The research in Malaysia was executed by researchers and psychiatrists from the Ministry of Health Malaysia. The researchers hailed from three research institutes from the National Institutes of Health (NIH)— Institute for Clinical Research (ICR), Institute for Health Behavioural Research (IHBR), and Institute for Health Management (IHM).
About NIH, MOH Malaysia
NIH is the research body under the Ministry of Health Malaysia. We focus on conducting health research to support the ministry and the stakeholders in ensuring the wellbeing of the people. The establishment of the NIH aims to create seamless continuum research from identifying research priorities, conducting research, and utilizing research findings for the health services and programs. The six research institutes under NIH are Institute for Clinical Research (ICR), Institute for Health Behavioural Research (IHBR), Institute for Health Management (IHM), Institute for Medical Research (IMR), Institute for Public Health (IKU), and Institute for Health System Research (IHSR)
For more information about NIH, visit: www.nih.gov.my
UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across more than 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone.
For more information about UNICEF and its work, visit: www.unicef.org
For more information, please contact:
Rachel Choong, UNICEF Malaysia, +6012 293 2690, email@example.com