The Ministry of Health (MoH) on Tuesday launched the Brunei Darussalam Mental Health Action Plan 2022-2025 to promote mental health and well-being, prevent mental disorders as well as strengthen cost effective and sustainable care, encourage recovery, and reduce the mortality, morbidity and disability for persons with mental health problems.
According to the published action plan, it also aims to further strengthen, streamline and coordinate activities related to mental health.
To meet the objectives, the action plan has identified four main strategies – strengthening effective leadership and governance for mental health; strengthening mental health services by ensuring the availability and accessibility of comprehensive quality mental health services; strengthening mental health promotion and mental disorder prevention; and developing the capacity for national information systems and research for mental health.
Additionally, there are 13 priority actions under the four main outlined strategies to be carried out in the next four years.
Under Strategy 1 of strengthening effective leadership and governance for mental health, among the five priority actions include increasing whole-of-nation and community awareness and capacity in mental health, developing work-life balance policy for all workplaces, optimising human resources by reestablishing a centralised pool of trained counsellors to be outsourced to all ministries, empower and recognise organisations that advocate for mental health, and develop the national code of ethics.
Meanwhile, for Strategy 2 of strengthening mental health services by ensuring the availability and accessibility of comprehensive quality mental health services, the three priority actions are to develop and offer mental health and counselling training programmes at higher institutions, develop a National Disaster Mental Health Management Guideline or incorporate mental health in a National Emergency Preparedness plan and implement digital mental healthcare.
The Strategy 3 of strengthening mental health promotion and mental disorder prevention comprises three priority actions, namely improving mental health literacy among the Brunei population to reduce stigma and discrimination, strengthening all strategies promoting mental health in schools, all education institutions, workplaces and in communities as well as promoting safe and supportive education institutions and workplace environment.
Under Strategy 4, developing the capacity for national information systems and research for mental health, there are two priority actions – establish a mental health surveillance system and strengthen cooperation and collaboration between local institutions, universities and health services in mental health research.
The Brunei Darussalam Mental Health Action Plan 2022-2025 was officially launched by Minister of Health Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham bin Haji Jaafar at a ceremony at Serambi Suluh Hall, Tarindak D’Seni in the capital on Tuesday.
The action plan, the minister explained, “contains these four main strategies that not only support the goals of the Ministry of Health Strategic Plan 2019-2023, but also gives added value by emphasising more on a whole-of-nation approach in together addressing mental health issues while complementing other national action plans such as the Family, Women and Children Action Plan and the Senior Citizens Action Plan under the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports.
“This includes leveraging as well as mobilising available resources from the public and private sectors as well as non-governmental organisation representatives from community groups.”
The minister said the MoH has achieved progress in providing a variety of mental health services for the people and residents of this country.
“The services cover mental healthcare through basic health services to preparation of treatment for patients in tertiary health services (hospitals). These services were expanded with the mental health helpline and support – Talian Harapan 145 to provide public access to counselling help and advice related to mental health issues,” he said.
The minister said the establishment of the Mental Health Strategy Unit at the Health Promotion Centre in recent years has seen them complement each other’s services by focussing on mental health promotion and education as well as looking at the direction of strategies that can address risk factors contributing to mental health disorders.
The minister expressed his appreciation to addressing mental health issues, including counsellors working in ministries and other departments as well as psychologists and counsellors from the private sector and non-governmental groups, which provide services and interventions.
He said a new feature in the BruHealth application called ‘Health Index’, which is in its pilot phase, will be launched in the near future.
The Health Index is an initiative to produce an overall health score that is specific to each individual based on several medical parameters and health risk factors screening. Health risk factors screening uses a validated screening questionnaire and includes parameters related to mental health, nutrition, physical activity and the use of tobacco.
It is hoped that this new feature will help people be more aware of lifestyle risk factors that can contribute to non-communicable diseases and mental health disorders as well as taking initial steps to address these problems.