In efforts to curb and address non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in the Sultanate, mental health issues are often forgotten or do not gain the same attention as physical health issues, said Health Promotion Centre (HPC) Head Dr Hajah Norhayati binti Haji Md Kassim.
“NCDs often coexist with mental health disorders, and both have many of the same risk factors. Therefore, there is no health without mental health. Naturally, mental health issues exist in our daily lives whether at home, at work or in the local community. It can affect anyone,” she added.
Dr Hajah Norhayati made these comments at the launch of the Brunei Darussalam Mental Health Action Plan 2022-2025 during a ceremony at Serambi Suluh Hall, Tarindak D’Seni in Bandar Seri Begawan yesterday.
Minister of Health Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham bin Haji Jaafar, the guest of honour, launched the action plan.
He also witnessed the memorandum signing of the ‘Friends of HPC’ in conjunction with World Mental Health Day 2022.
The Brunei Darussalam Mental Health Action Plan 2022-2025 outlines four key strategies. They are 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.
The mental health action plan has been aligned with World Health Organization (WHO) Comprehensive Mental Health Action Plan 2013-2030 issued by the WHO.
Dr Hajah Norhayati said, “We often imagine a world where mental health is appreciated, promoted and protected; where everyone has the same opportunity to enjoy mental health and practice their human rights; as well as everyone can gain access to mental healthcare when needed. This is the basic vision for the creation of the first mental health action plan for Brunei Darussalam. It is also in line with this year’s World Mental Health Day theme ‘Making Mental Health and Well-Being for All a Global Priority’.”
On the Brunei Darussalam Mental Health Action Plan 2022-2025, she said there are 13 actions and 32 activities that have been identified to be organised continuously by taking into account the needs and priorities of Brunei Darussalam in the next four years.
“The Brunei Darussalam Mental Health Action Plan 2022-2025 will be distributed to stakeholders in the health and non-health sectors through professional education sessions, briefings and dialogue sessions as well as roadshows nationwide.
“The sessions will be complemented with the implementation of actions outlined in the action plan through the mechanism of cross functional teams for mental health and regular mental health promotion activities,” she added.
The signing of memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the Ministry of Health (MoH) through the HPC and five non-governmental organisations (NGOs) – the Brunei Darussalam Red Crescent Society, Brunei Youth Council, Big BWN Project, Cope For Hope and The Blue Raincoat Collective – was witnessed by the Minister of Health.
The MoU aims to foster cooperation and open up opportunities, including capacity building, for NGOs to increase knowledge and public awareness on the importance of mental health and well-being.
The mental health action plan will be implemented in various sectors through the Multisectoral Task Force on Health Mechanism, specifically the cross functional teams on mental health. This is to ensure uniformity of planning and action related to mental health and well-being among the target group and to facilitate monitoring related to mental health and well-being at the national level.
It is hoped that the action plan will also be used as a reference for health professionals and other sectors related to mental health and well-being in the Sultanate.