Activist urges govt to introduce mental health assessment system

Social activist Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye said mental illness could be described as a ‘time bomb’ that could explode at any time if it was not effectively handled. ― Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
Social activist Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye said mental illness could be described as a ‘time bomb’ that could explode at any time if it was not effectively handled. ― Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, June 23 — The government needs to introduce a mental health assessment system which can determine the extent of mental disorders that can lead to crime occurrences or criminal acts, said social activist Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye.

Lee, who is also Mental Health Promotion Advisory Council member, said mental illness could be described as a ‘time bomb’ that could explode at any time if it was not effectively handled.

“The Health Ministry should develop and implement a psychological assessment index which can be used to help the relevant parties plan ongoing programmes to help address the increasing mental health issues in the country,” he said in a statement today.

He also said various murder cases that allegedly involved suspects with mental disorders in the country had shown the seriousness and the need to deal with it at the community level,

Quoting the recent case of a woman who slit the throat of her two year old son in Maran on June 17, Lee said she was reported to often be in pensive mood and heard voices since May.

It was also reported that the woman’s family had sought alternative treatment and although it might help, Lee felt that she should have been referred to a psychologist for mental health assessment.

“It is important for the suspect to undergo a mental health assessment while the case is being investigated,” he said.

Family members and the community, he said, should help those with mental disorders get proper counselling or treatment and not abandoning or insulting them.

Lee also emphasised the importance of removing the stigma that those suffering from mental illness are ‘crazy’ people.

“Many of us still do not realise the importance of mental health development even though experts have warned that mental illness will be the second largest health problem in Malaysia after heart disease by 2020,” he added. — Bernama