LETTER | The Malaysian Students’ Council of Australia (Masca) and the Malaysian Progressives in Australia (MPOZ) calls upon the Malaysian government to form an independent royal commission into mental health in Malaysia to tackle our broken mental health system.
Although recently Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail and Hannah Yeoh recently released a joint press release to introduce the government’s plan to improve mental health in the country, we believe that the measures proposed are inadequate.
While some initiatives like removing phone charges for Talian Kasih and Befrienders to increase accessibility should be applauded, it does not solve the problem holistically.
Currently, there is no sustainable plan outlined in the statement to fix a crucial issue: the availability of mental health professionals to those suffering mental health conditions.
There is less than one psychiatrist available per 100,000 Malaysians in our country and these services are simply not accessible to the vast majority of them.
Furthermore, the plans outlined by the government fail to consider the sources of mental health conditions.
The Deklarasi Keluarga campaign to “instil family values” is a questionable approach, especially when considering mental health issues may stem from an individual’s family such as domestic violence and academic pressures.
One aspect the Malaysian government can replicate in Malaysia is an independent royal commission for mental health similar to one recently established in Victoria, Australia which Masca and MPOZ have prepared a submission to highlight the plight of international students when it comes to mental health.
This royal commision will be able to reach out to every layer of society in Malaysia to engage in a difficult but much-needed conversation on the lived experiences of mental health between survivors, community, and the government.
This differs from the All-Party Parliamentary Group that chooses a select few to tackle the issue. Mental health affects everyone, and everyone plays a crucial role to tackle the issue.
This government has the mandate and responsibility to lead and create proper governance and policies to establish a working mental health system for the rakyat.
The writers are the organiser, Malaysian Progressives in Australia and chairperson, Victorian Branch, Malaysian Students’ Council of Australia respectively.
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.