The 9th Perak Mental Health Convention with the Theme: ‘100 Years of Psychiatry, Where do we go from here’, was opened by Dato’ Dr Hjh Nordiyanah binti Hj Hassan, State Health Director at Impiana Hotel. She said that patients with a mental illness suffer from stigma and discrimination. Many people who have mental health conditions consider their signs and symptoms a normal part of life or avoid treatment out of shame or fear. A nationwide survey on mental health in Malaysia in 2006 (NHMSIII) among people 18 years and above revealed that 11.2% of the adult population suffers from mental disorders. She said that people tend to visit bomohs rather than doctors. She added that it was a coincidence that the convention fell on World Mental Health Day which was on October 10.
Dato’ Dr Suarn Singh, Consultant Psychiatrist, Hospital Bahagia Ulu Kinta, who gave the keynote address, traced the history of mental health-care from pre-1900 to the present time. The Bahagia Hospital in Tanjung Rambutan was built in 1911 and one of the buildings is still in use. The focus now is more on outpatient treatment rather than inpatient treatment and there are 49 facilities nationwide for inpatient treatment. Self-help and family support groups are being trained. There are mental health promotions and healthy lifestyle campaigns. Books have been written on mental health-care for children, adults, senior citizens and retirees.
Symposiums were held on various topics including ‘Happy Family’, moving away from mental institutions to community mental health centres, advocacy for the mentally ill and other more technical subjects.