KUCHING: “Whenever you are facing difficulties, seek help at any counselling centre. Don’t be ashamed or afraid,” advised Welfare, Community Wellbeing, Women, Family and Childhood Development Minister Datuk Seri Fatimah Abdullah.

“Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and even counsellors in all secondary schools do provide counselling to those who need help,” she said.

She stressed that counselling was important as it could help those in their coping skills or provide the support they needed.

“My ministry is also focusing on mental health for the wellbeing of our community,” said Fatimah, adding that awareness on mental health needed to be increased in order to overcome the mental illness stigma.

“Not only there is a rise in depression cases but other serious mental health problems including stress, anxiety, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder are among the concerns, too,” she pointed out.

Commenting on the proposal by Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii to raise the issue of decriminalised attempted suicide and extension of insurance coverage for mental illness during the Parliament sitting on July 1, Fatimah said Malaysia Psychiatric Association patron Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye had already brought up the issue and the insurance coverage had been discussed in detail.

The minister said insurance companies should change their policy of “one shoe that fits all” for mental healthcare. insurance coverage.

“This is because there is a range and lists of mental illnesses. Depression, for instance, can be cured through therapy and those affected can become functioning individuals again, unlike those suffering from schizophrenia,” she explained.

Hence, it was important for the insurance sector to extend its coverage for mental healthcare and treatment, said Fatimah.