Call for awareness on mental health issues in Brunei

Azlan Othman

Brunei has seen 2.6 suicide cases in 2018 for every 100,000 population in the country while according to 2016 figures, 9,000 consultations (including 246 new cases) have been recorded by the Adult Psychiatry Services in the Sultanate, said Psychiatrist at Health Promotion Centre, Ministry of Health Dr Alia Zuhaidah binti Haji Shazli.

Awareness on mental health problem is still not strong in this country, she said highlighting the importance of it during a forum at Sengkurong Sixth Form Centre yesterday.

Mental illnesses include depression, anxiety, bipolar, schizophrenia and post traumatic disorder. Stigma or negative thoughts on mental health issues like feeling inferior, isolated and not getting assistance and treatment are very worrying, Dr Alia said.

She said depression is a global problem with quarter of the population experiencing mental health issues.

“Depression can result in suicide with suicide being the second cause of death among those aged 15 and 29. The impact from depression is very serious. It is not normal if it occurs for a longer period like two weeks,” Dr Alia said.

On mental health among students, Dr Alia said 20 per cent of children and teenagers worldwide face mental health problems. Incidents of bullying increase mental health problems while victims of bullying have an increased stress level and lack concentration. The causes of stress among children and teenagers are personality problem, school environment, social surrounding and home conflict. Among students it is due to their own personality like high expectations that could not be reached, conflict at homes, unconducive social and school surrounding, she said.

Religious Teachers University College of Seri Begawan (KUPU SB) Publication Centre Assistant Head Dr Ustaz Nazirul Mubin bin Ahad who gave the perspective on the subject from an Islamic point of view, said 300 million are suffering from depression worldwide as stated by the World Health Organization (WHO).

“It is a global problem,” he said urging the public not to air grievances on Facebook or other social media which would invite mixed comments by ‘keyboard warriors’.

“Hence we need to be careful when discussing this. Depression is due to the surrounding environment and a test in life. Some depressed people are not aware of their own problem,” Dr Ustaz Nazirul Mubin said. The Mental Health Awareness forum carried the theme ‘Enhancing Students Welfare and Harmony’. Acting Director of Schools at the Ministry of Education Zainal Abidin bin Haji Kipli was the guest of honour. President of Parents-Teachers Association Haji Abdul Rahman bin Haji Nawi moderated the forum.

FROM LEFT: President of Parents-Teachers Association Haji Abdul Rahman bin Haji Nawi, Dr Alia Zuhaidah binti Haji Shazli and KUPU SB Publication Centre Assistant Head Dr Ustaz Nazirul Mubin bin Ahad during the forum. PHOTO: AZLAN OTHMAN