LAST_UPDATEWed, 23 Apr 2014 5pm

Are Young People Losing Their Minds?

7.45 per cent experienced depression and 7:59 percent were stress. Pic: www.patheos.com7.45 per cent experienced depression and 7:59 percent were stress. Pic: www.patheos.comSCENES of murder, rape and suicide. Viral video of serious crimes being committed are frighteningly becoming commonplace.

Such as a murder case in 2010 which involve a family of four in Gemencheh, Negeri Sembilan.

What really shocked us was that the crime was committed by a family member. Only a month later, a similar incident happened in Kuala Terengganu where a teenager, using a knife made by the father, killed his father and wounded his brother.

In these crimes, the perpetrators claimed to hear voices whispering to them, instructing them to wound and kill.

It clearly showed signs of hallucination, which could drive an outwardly normal person to act out of his control.

Don’t the family members know that there is a mental defect in one of their own? And why did it happen? What triggered it?

The Ministry of Health recently conducted a mental health test for secondary school students to uncover the level of stress or indiscipline among students.

Here’s the shocking bit.

Out of the 6,540 students sampled from six secondary schools across the country, more than 27 percent or about 1,765 teenagers were detected to have signs of mental problems.

Testing methods that began in 2011 was initially designed to deal with discipline problems. However, unexpected statistics in 2012 showed the screened students as having an abnormal level of stress and worse, some suffered from chronic depression.

One of the methods used is questionnaire. Pic: ubksmkks.blogspot.comOne of the methods used is questionnaire. Pic: ubksmkks.blogspot.comFollowing the report, the Health Ministry is taking the drastic step of requiring all secondary school students from Form 1 until 4 to take the test.

Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr. S Subramaniam said the ministry would conduct a mental health assessment for high school students from Form 1 to Form 4 next year.

Consultant Psychiatrist and Psychologist, Dr Wan Mohd Rushidi Wan Mahmud said the Ministry's idea was a good way to detect these problem early.

According to him, a questionnaire is the first step necessary in identifying if a person has problems.

Obviously, in order to avoid the problem of 'false positive' results, ie positive scores but does not have the problem, the student should be referred to a specialist after the screening.

"Those who tested positive should be evaluated by a qualified person to ensure that the students are really experiencing depression, stress or other life problems.

Dr Wan Mohd Rushdi, who is also Kedah Medical Centre's psychiatrist, added that it is important for the Ministry to provide specific instruments and must have a good sense to avoid 'false negative', ie students who have emotional trouble but showed a negative score.

"This method is not 'full proof' because it is only based on a questionnaire conducted by the school counsellor instead of a detailed interview from an expert, so I think the Ministry should have proper procedures to avoid any mistakes," he explained to mD.

"Such inspection is important to assess the health and stress level in students, and also in finding the solutions.

Dr. Wan also added that a school counsellor should be more responsive and proactive as they are the first person responsible in detecting any problems involving the discipline and conduct of students.

"They are the first liners, being in the best position to help these students. They should identify the early signs of emotional problems and know how to deal with it before referring them for any further treatments." he said.

As of December 2012, 19,919 students from 357 schools involved in the nationwide program, 7.45 per cent experienced depression and 7:59 percent were stress.


One counsellor for 500 students is not enough.

The National Union of Teaching Profession (NUTP) welcomed the efforts by the Health Ministry to conduct these tests among students.

"Approach of one school counsellor for 500 students is no longer appropriate and the ratio should be reduced to one school counsellor for 300 to 350 students only", said Hashim. Pic:"Approach of one school counsellor for 500 students is no longer appropriate and the ratio should be reduced to one school counsellor for 300 to 350 students only", said Hashim. Pic: president, Hashim Adnan said the approach of one school counsellor for 500 students is no longer appropriate and the ratio should be reduced to one school counsellor for 300 to 350 students only.

"The small ratio will help the counsellors to be more focused in their duty to help students deal with their mental and emotional stress," he told a portal yesterday.

Representing the counsellors, Adriyanti Che Din said they are ready with the government's call but to supervise 500 students with only one counsellor may seem impossible.

"We looked up this program because this is one way to address discipline and also other problems.

She said the method requires close attention from her part as a counsellor because it involves the students' health status.

"For example, there are three counsellors for 1,200 students at my school.

They are somewhat anxious that the government's plans may not work because of them (counsellors).

"In this program, we are the first to identify the students' mental health and to avoid any mistakes, we need to focus and supervise.

This being done in a smaller quantity (students) may seem more effective," she said when contacted by mD.


More specific information from the ministry.

Chairman of Parent Teacher Association (PTA) of a school in Kajang, Dr.Mohd Naz'ri Mahrin described the government's proposal came at a good time considering the rates of crimes involving students are on the rise.

"We have to admit that parents may not be aware of what their children might do, so this is a smart move by the government.

An open discussion must be done to help explain and describe in details of the methods and benefits from the tests.

"I just want the ministry to provide information to parents so that they understand the benefits."

He said the government's plan was timely, but hopes that all students' information must be kept confidential by the Ministry of

Health and the school in order to protect the students' sensitivity.

However, he said the idea was a good step in identifying students who are at risk of having problems.

"Not all kids are willing to share their problems with their parents and teachers (counsellor)," he said to mD.

Afrina Zaman, 36, welcomed the Ministry's idea on the matter.

"It is a good idea and it also helps us (parents) to know the seriousness of their (kids) problems, sometimes they are scared and shy to talk and discuss with us.

Obviously, with the obtained results of the examination, parents can ready themselves to find a solution if the student is at risk of having problems.

"As parents, we can find ways and approach carefully if they have problems," she explained.











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