Thursday, August 26, 2010

Do You Know What Mental Illness Is?

Bapa sembelih anak tiga tahun - Kota Bharu
Anak potong kepala ayah, bunuh datuk, nenek - Melaka.

These two are just few of the many cases involving someone who is actually suffering from mental illness. And might be an old story for me to blog about too.

I just feel like blogging about these stories, cases for two reasons. One, I wanna educate myself, my family, my friends and anyone who comes across this blog about mental illness. Two, I do not agree with most of the comments I read, see in the net.

I gotta say, thanks to Ustaz Hasrizal better known as Ustaz Saiful Islam who is very famous and popular with his blog, He is an ustaz alright, but he doesn't limit his responsibilities only to giving ceramah, khutbah. And probably because he's a husband to a doctor he feels that he should share the things he knows and learns from his wife if it can benefit the society. His motto, erti hidup pada memberi. Life is meaningful when you give.

Do you know what is autistic? How about schizophrenia? Bipolar disorder? Pronouncing those terms is a bit challenging, but taking time to know what it is and what you can do to deal with it is not. Though acknowledging and admitting you or your loved ones are suffering from mental illness is tougher. Reading Ustaz Hasrizal's articles on autism and bipolar disorder is like a wake up call. Ignorance is a bliss, but choosing to be ignorant is blatant selfish.

With the increasing numbers of domestic violence, murder cases in the country I feel that we should be aware and know what is mental illness, the symptoms, the treatments and anyone or any organisation that can help those who are directly or indirectly affected. So, I decided to check out the official websites of Malaysian Mental Health Association and Malaysian Psychiatric Association. I'm gonna just share what I got from there so here goes -

Common misconceptions about mental illness

Date: 6 July 2006

Myth: "Young people and children don't suffer from mental health problems."

Fact: 13% of children in Malaysia aged between 5 - 15 years old suffer from a mental health disorder that severely disrupts their ability to function at home, in school, or in their community. (Source: National Health and Morbidity Study, 1997)

Myth: "People who need psychiatric care should be locked away in institutions."

Fact: Today, most people can lead productive lives within their communities thanks to a variety of supports, programs, and/or medications.

Myth: "A person who has had a mental illness can never be normal."

Fact: People with mental illnesses can, and do, recover to resume normal activities. For example, Kay Redfield Jamieson, who has bipolar disorder, has received treatment and is today Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. She has written extensively on mood disorders and manic depressive illnesses.

Myth: "Mentally ill persons are dangerous."

Fact: The vast majority of people with mental illness are not violent. In cases when violence does occur, the incident typically results from the same reasons as with the general public, such as feeling threatened or excessive use of alcohol and/or drugs.

Myth: "People with mental illnesses can work low-level jobs but aren't suited for really important or responsible positions."

Fact: People with mental illnesses, like everyone else, have the potential to work at any level depending on their own abilities, experience and motivation.

Taken from Malaysian Psychiatric Association.

I just don't want to copy the entire thing from the websites so I will just summarise what I read.

Symptoms of mental illness include anxiety, depression, intense fear, thought disturbances, paranoia, delusions (false beliefs), hallucinations and unusual elation (feel extra light, happy, overjoy).

There are many factors that can cause mental illness (though it is still unclear). Things like emotional stress, biochemical imbalance, deterioration of brain cells (which can be seen in elderly people suffering from dementia, alzheimer) and alcohol or drug abuse.

The thing is with society, our society especially, when someone is not his usual self, we say that "ada benda tu dok kacau dia". It might be true. But what if it's not. What if it's something in the head that is messing around with that person's life? People always thought only old people can have dementia, become senile, forgetful but do you know there are young adults who suffer from dementia. This type of illness is referred to as Young Onset Dementia and it is much worse than the typical dementia suffered by elderly people. For all we know, our colleagues who keep forgetting the meetings he had to attend, housewives who cook the same special meal for two days in a row could be suffering from Young Onset Dementia.

It just irritates me whenever I see comments like "Itulah dunia, dah akhir zaman. Bapak pon bunuh anak camtu je.(The world is about to come to an end. Even a father kills his son just like that)", "Apa nak jadi orang sekarang, sanggup dia bunuh datuk nenek, potong kepala bapak camtu. (What's going on with people nowadays, how could he kill his own grandparents, and decapitated his own father?)" Stop saying things like akhir zaman, everyone knows this is akhir zaman already but do we just do nothing and say the same thing when things like these happen again in the future? For all we know, the suspects in those cases could be suffering from mental illness. Society loves to judge and talk behind people's back. And that's another reason why those who are potentially suffering from mental illness never seek help, or at least letting anyone know about their problems. It's the stigma.

Though I am well aware that there may be real criminals, the read bad guy who feign they are mentally unwell/sick. That's why it is a good idea that the government wants to educate the public about mental illness. People that know the criminals personally can testify if the criminals did have the symptoms, or experience any mental illness.

At the same time law enforcers should also be more careful and smarter when dealing with cases like these so that the real cold blooded criminals won't get away. Well, that's another issue. What's more important, we all choose to know, be aware and care for those who suffer from mental illness.

Hope it reaches to you, my intention of educating myself and others about mental illness. Let's show we care. If we don't start it first, then who will?


*jeSSicA* said...

U should be a medical student :P I did psychiatry rotation last semester, saw some troubled kids, adults and old people...mental illness can affect any age group, and it's a pity that there's quite a high stigma around this area

Danial Ikhwan Jaafar said...

hahah being sarcastic are you? =P
well, i guess people over there wont say things like, he got possessed by evil spirits thats why he's behaving that way and stuff like that. it's just not fair. but crimes caused by those suffering from mental illness seem to be quite rampant this year. =/


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