Children as young as 21 months referred to HUSM psychiatric department

KOTA BARU: This year, children as young as 21 months were among patients referred to the psychiatry department of the Universiti Sains Malaysia Hospital (HUSM) in Kubang Kerian for screening and treatment.

However, department head Dr Asrenee Ab Razak said the children were not suffering from mental ilness but had emotional disturbances, resulting in them being too lazy to talk.

"Mental health disturbances are not mental diseases but if not treated at an early stage, could become serious mental disease.

"So, early awareness on changes in your child could prevent mental illness," she told reporters at the closing ceremony of the World Mental Health Day at USM level and the launch of Mentari@USM here today.

Dr Asrenee said each month, the HUSM psychiatry clinic received 150 children and 240 adults who were referred there for screening and counselling services.

She said of that number, only one per cent suffered serious mental diseases like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder which required lifelong treatment while the rest were conditions like autism, hyperactivity or depression.

"With effective treatment, the non-serious mental patient can recover and function normally, subject to the ability to adapt to treatment, as well as support of their families," she added.

At the event, Dr Asrenee also launched Mentari@USM, a one-stop psychiatric centre for mental health screening services, as well as to diagnose, provide early treatment and rehabilitation for mental diseases.

She said 200 mental health patients had been treated at Mentari@USM since it was set up early this year, and several had recovered and returned to work as normal. — Bernama