You unofficial guide to
Mental Health Malaysia

  1. What is mental health?
  2. What are mental health problems?
  3. What causes these problems?
  4. What are some warning signs of a mental health problem?
  5. What helps?
  6. How can I find help?
  7. What should I do if I think a friend has a mental health problem?
  8. What if I want more information?

What is mental health?

Mental health is how you think, feel and act in order to face life's situations. It is how you look at yourself, your life, and the people in your life; how you evaluate your options and make choices. Mental health includes things like handling stress, relating to other people, and making decisions. And like many physical aspects of your health, it develops as you get older.

Everyone has mental health. Mental health ranges from good to not so good and even to poor. A person's mental health may move through the range sometimes a person is healthier than at other times and sometimes he or she needs help to handle problems. Many people experience mental health problems at some time during their lives.

What are mental health problems?

Mental health problems are real. They affect your thoughts, body, feelings, and behavior. Doctors call some of them

These disorders are not just a passing phase; they can really interfere with a person's life. Mental health problems can be severe and can lead to school failure, loss of friends, or family problems.

What causes these problems?

Mental health problems in young people are caused by biology, environment, or a mix of both. If young people are exposed to violence, loss of important people, abuse, or neglect, then they are more likely to be at risk for mental health problems. Other risk factors may include feeling continuous rejection because of race, religion, sexual orientation of family income.

Schools, families and communities can probably prevent some mental health problems by protecting young people from these extremely stressful kinds of environmental factors. And when there are problems, seeking help early may prevent them from getting worse.

Mental health problems are not your fault. They don't mean you are weak or a failure. They don't mean you aren't trying. Whatever the cause, the important thing is to get help.

What are some warning signs of a mental health problem?

There are many different signs that may point to a possible problem. Some of them are included in the list below. Pay attention if you (or your friends)

Are troubled by feelings:

Experience big changes in the way you get along: for example, you:

Find yourself limited by:

Behave in ways that cause you problems, for example:

What helps?

Mental health problems are painful. They can hurt as much as (or more than) a serious physical injury. If you have a mental health problem, the sooner you get the right help, the sooner you may feel better.

Some of the things that may help are:

The people who help you should understand you and your family situation. They should talk about your strong points as well as your problems. And they should respect you an your feelings.

How can I find help?

Find an adult you trust to talk to. This might be your parent, another relative, friend, neighbor, teacher, coach, school counsellor, or family doctor. It's OK to ask for help. If one adult doesn't have answers, find someone who does.

You may also decide to get help from someone trained to support those with mental health problems, such as a:

Examples of where these people may work are:

Or you can call a local hotline.

Call telephone directory assistance or NGOs to get a local hotline number.

What should I do If I think a friend has a mental health problem?

Encourage your friend to talk to a trusted adult. If he or she won't you should talk with an adult you trust. If your friend talks about suicide, talk to an adult immediately. Don't go it alone. But above all hang in there. Continue to be a friend. Listening to an being open to another person's feelings are important. Your friend doesn't need blame or shame. He or she needs your friendship.

What if I want more information?

For worldwide resources, please visit to
In Malaysia, for publications, references, and referrals to local and national resources, contact:

Malaysian Mental Health Association (MMHA)
No 9, Lorong 3/57B, Off Jalan Sentosa,
46000 Petaling Jaya,
Selangor Darul Ehsan.

Tel: (03) 7782 5499

The information herein is adapted from the brochure entitled "Life can be tough…" by MMHA.
For enquiries, please e-mail to