What is Mental Health?

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In Malaysia, the stigma of being called “crazy”, “a psycho” or “mental” is more prominent and scary than the actual illnesses themselves, signifying that mental health is not taken very seriously, or taken too seriously to the point where we are scared to approach and offer help to those suffering. Sometimes, we don’t even know that we’re having trouble with our own mental health due to lack of psychoeducation regarding it. So many questions surround the topic of mental health, and in this article, we’ll provide you with key information on what you need to know about it!


According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), mental health is defined as “a state of mental well-being” that is used to help us handle “the stresses of life, realise their abilities, learn well and work well, and contribute to their community”. Factors such as our social, economic, cultural, environmental and financial circumstances can affect their mental health. An example of a social factor can be the beauty standards set by the society we are a part of, while an economical factor can be the increased cost of living since the COVID pandemic. A cultural factor plays a toll, typically when we are exposed to a foreign culture. This usually happens within the cultural diaspora. 


Similarly to our physical health, where we get physical illnesses when unwell, we can also experience mental illnesses within our mental health. Most common mental illnesses, such as depression, anxiety and stress are the most common conditions found in Malaysia, with one in three adults (29.2%) having a mental health condition (2006). The recent COVID-19 pandemic also affected the general state of Malaysians, with 74.3% of the 307,673 callers of the ministry’s psychosocial helpline needing counselling and support from chronic stress, anxiety and depression during the pandemic.


The first step in reducing mental issues is through the reduction of the shame held upon those suffering with them. Try not to dismiss emotional distress calls, even if you think it’s minute or that the person may be making it all up. Empathy is key when dealing with those with mental health issues since the issue is internal, rather than physical. Avoid calling people with these issues with negative nicknames, such as “crazy”, “insane” or “stupid”. Take care of things such as your stress level or your anger issues. They’re just as important as your anaemia, or your heart issues. Remember, compassion goes a long way! 



by Farhanis ,

mental health advocate



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