Health Talk on Stress and Depression

Thank you to the team from OCBC bank which invited me and my team to give a health talk this morning. We hope you enjoyed the session as much as we did. For this event, myself and Roana had worked hard to ensure that we had some good content for you. Our collaboration with Psyberr as usual provided the video support with our ever loved video on depression.

You might not be aware but stress is one of the most common complaints we get in clinic and also chronic stress is a risk factor for multiple medical conditions. Only this morning I was informed regarding some disturbing news on how unmanaged stress had possibly led to early heart conditions in young people. With our lack of exercise, smoking rates of 22.8% and undiagnosed issues with alcohol among others, there is the possibility that stress will lead to other problems.

Depression as we know is a consequence of chronic stress and has its own complications – namely suicide – which we try to prevent.

We hope you all had a great session today and we hope that all of you who attended had gotten some value from our talk. For other organisations that might be keen to have us with you, do get in touch. We might be able to make a difference for you too.

Pics of the sessions.

Getting a point across by Dr Amer

The crowd undergoing practice on mindfulness by Ms Roana a certified counsellor

Ms Roana doing the practical session

Thank you again to the team from OCBC who invited me and my team over.

Screening for children with mental health issues

These are amazing times. With just one question and a few tweets we now have a massive opportunity to open up the discussion on screening by teachers for mental health issues in particular conditions where early detection can make a huge difference in the quality of life of our children – ADHD and autism for example.

Now we must be mindful that even with the part played by our respected teachers to detect and refer we still have a long way to. It’s not so easy folks.

Why? Well consider this;

1. You detect and refer but parents refuse to bring the child to see us in psychiatry.

2. Child is brought to psychiatry but we don’t have as many skilled people ready to cater to the load that comes forward. In our centre it’s a year long wait for a new case to be seen due to the loss of one child psychiatrist.

3. Your child is assessed and a plan is made. However, the centre does not have the supporting allied health providers (get to know who they are in our October campaign). These people include trainee psychologist, occupational therapist etc

4. You decide to go “outside” because you cannot wait. The price for private care is high due to scarcity of the aforementioned people involved.

5. Ongoing stigma in mental illness.

6. Insurance still does NOT cover for people with mental illness.

7. We want to train a child psychiatrist to cater for the possible load. We don’t have enough training funds to do so.

I think that’s quite a list already.

Therefore although I’m very optimistic and believe this is the first step we need to ensure that both upstream and downstream issues are sorted and sorted out fast.

Once we’ve sorted the children let’s then look at the elderly. Did you know by 2030 15% of Malaysians will be >65. Are we ready?

Toyspital 2018

Thank you to the team behind Toyspital for the invite through the #medtweetmy NGO. I enjoyed the discussion that went on during our event.

I was fortunate to be with Dr Afida Sohana who was talking about vaccines. It was an interesting story she shared with all of us. Essentially we need the herd immunity to stay safe.

Ms Jazlina did some great work on sharing her expertise for dietetics. She focused on children with obesity. I enjoyed the idea of making a presentable food tray to encourage children to take certain food groups such as vegetables.

My talk was on children and mental illness. Certainly I’m no child psychiatrist but I shared the 4 more common types of condition which can affect children. In order of preference, they were:-

1. Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder

2. Autism Spectrum Disorder

3. Depression

4. Anxiety Disorders

I hope to share more on my podcasts on these conditions so we may be enlightened.

To top it all off, I was also interviewed by TV3 Malaysia. Thank you.


Responsible Reporting for Suicide

It’s been an extremely busy day and I know, I promised a blurb on men’s sexual harassment, however before I spend time on that piece I wanted to share about an event I was involved with today.

At present, for the next 2 days, nearly 300+ Psychiatrist are in KL to attend our annual Malaysian Conference in Psychological Medicine (MCPM) which is in its 22nd installation and still going strong.

I have had the pleasure to work with Associate Professor Dr Chan Lai Fong from UKM on a symposium which we hope will increase mental health awareness but also ensure that the reporting is safe to others. I believe we met this objective through the event graced also by Dr Nurashikin from MOH and also Ms Sara Bartlett who is from Mindframe, Australia.

The panellist was also amazing with a star studded line up including a Mr Amirul from Harian Metro. What a discussion!

Finally, thank you everyone for coming and making the event a success.

Isu Kesedaran Kesihatan Mental

Semakin hari semakin banyak isu-isu kesihatan mental yang saya dengari. Malahan, semakin hari banyak undangan dan temuramah yang di jemput untuk saya berkolaborasi didalam bidang kesihatan mental ini. Alhamdulillah, dapat juga saya merasai situasi begini berlaku di Malaysia.

Saya masih ingat semasa training susah sekali untuk situasi ini berlaku. Pada masa itu, kami semua cuba mendapat undangan tetapi masyarakat lebih berminat dengan isu jantung dan kencing manis. Isu-isu yang penting, tetapi saya beranggapan bahawa, isu kesihatan mental juga sama penting. Oleh kerana, kurangnya peluang semasa itu, pesakit saya akan ke hospital lewat, penyakit mereka melarat, malahan mereka tidak tahu pun kewujudan ahli perubatan didalam bidang psikiatri ini, maka ramai pesakit kami akan ke bomoh-bomoh dan rawatan tradisional tanpa peluang untuk kami membantu. Satu kajian yang dibuat di UM menunjukkan bahawa sebelum berjumpa kami, pesakit akan ke rawatan alternatif dan kami hanya akan berjumpa dengan pesakit tersebut 3 tahun selepas simptom bermula. Terlalu lama! Jika anda semua mendengar podcast saya berkenaan dengan skizofrenia dan rawatan injeksi, maka anda akan tahu bahawa kalau dah 3 tahun, kerosakan pada otak telah berlaku dan sukar diubati.

Akan tetapi juga, rawatan kesihatan mental dan pasukan perawatnya bukan hanya melibatkan doktor. Saya cuma salah seorang ahli pasukan kesihatan mental. Ada beberapa ahli kesihatan mental yang lain yang menjayakan rawatan dan pemulihan pesakit kami ini. Didalam pasukan kami ada jururawat, occupational therapisy, kaunselor, psikologist, social worker dan lain-lain. Malah, pada tahun ini, saya akan melancarkan Bulan Kesedaran Mental dan juga Pameran Lukisan oleh pesakit mental di Universiti Malaya pada bulan Oktober. Kita perkenalkan semua ahli kita supaya ramai yang akan tahu mengenai bidang kerja hero dan heroine ini.

Sementara menunggu bulan sepuluh nanti, bolehlah ikuti kami di twitter, insta dan fb. Harapan kami bahawa anda semua akan tahu apa yang kami membantu dan senanglah berjumpa

Smoking Cessation Week Long Commitment

Hi there everyone

Sorry for the long silence. It’s been an extremely busy week with the Kuala Lumpur Nicotine Addiction Conference 2018 and also a session at the Malaysian Thoracic Society Conference. Both related very much to tobacco control in particular on matters related to assisting people to quit smoking.

A big shout out to the organising committee and the team we now have in the nicotine addiction research group UMCAS. It was an amazing experience and I could feel that we are ready for bigger things in the very near future.

We had with us for the week, 3 leading experts in diverse fields of research. Associate Prof Irina Stepanov will help build our fundamental research group, Prof Geoffrey and Dr Anne Quah will help us with population research in tobacco control through our joint ideas for the ITC study and Prof Bullen, will as he had done successfully, guide us all in innovations and clinical research. We hope that this collaboration will assist Malaysia to be smoke free by 2045.

Myself, as usual focus on mental health and quitting smoking. We have over the years collected the baseline data and soon we will be sharing this information with the hope to better understand our patients and their smoking habits and motivation to quit. It’s a now a myth that people with mental illness cannot quit. They can. We should therefore help them in making this achievement.

People with mental illness who quit do better in terms of their mood, well being, it helps them save, prolongs life and protects from disability. We owe them every opportunity to help them quit this terrible addiction.

So, thanks for participating in the conference. Thank you for supporting us in the many way you have done – discussed, shared, like anything and everything related to KLNAC2018. We plan to see you again 2 years time 😉

Ep. 41 – Alcohol Use

Safe drinking levels guidelines.

15 units recommended per week.

1 glass of wine = 1 standard units
1 can of beer (330ml, 5%) = 1.5 units
If usage is more can be considered binge drinking

Chronic alcohol use can lead to heart issues

Come forward if you have issues regarding alcohol use.



Penyakit Was Was

Sejak kebelakangan ini saya, ramai juga pesakit yang menghidap penyakit was was ataupun OCD ataupun penyakit obsesif kompulsif telah datang ke klinik saya. Biasanya, tema yang diceritakan lebih kepada beberapa eleme yang diantaranya adalah

  • Kebersihan
  • Agama
  • Teratur/symetri

Biasanya juga simtom yang dialami telah lama berada bersama mereka akan tetapi, bila kita berjumpa keadaan telah pun melarat ke peringkat yang agak serius. Pada masa yang sama, kebiasaanya, mereka-mereka ini tidak dapat berfungsi di rumah dan juga di tempat kerja/sekolah.

Isu ini melbatkan dua perkara iaitu, simtom obsesif dimana individu tersebut akan sering memikirkan sesuatu, dimana idea/fikiran itu datang dengan sendirinya, fikiran itu bukan dari orang/benda/fenomena lain tetapi memang dari tuan punya badan. Fikiran itu TIDAK diingini mahupun disukai. Ia tidak boleh dilupakan dan oleh kerana itu, sering individu tersebut akan gelisah/resah!

Perbuatan kompulsif pula adalah sesuatu aktiviti yang dilakukan selepas adanya fikiran obsesif tersebut yang mana tujuannya adalah untuk mengurangkan rasa resah tersebut. kadangkala ia akan menjadi lebih kompleks dan juga lebih lama. Ada juga dimana, perbuatan ini agak merbahaya contohnya memukul kepala sendiri beberapa kali.

Prevalen penyakit ini sangat rendah iaitu 1% sahaja tetapi oleh kerana jalan cerita mereka ini agak menarik, saya berpendapat isu ini di ketengahkan oleh orang ramai. Rawatan yang ada memerlukan saringan terdahulu oleh kerana kadangkala ada penyakit lain yang boleh mimik simtom OCD ini.

Maklumat lanjut boleh didapati di tulisan ini;

Obsessions & Compulsions, When Do They Become an Illness? – Dr Amer Siddiq