Academic journal article Contemporary Nurse : a Journal for the Australian Nursing Profession

Perceived Training Needs of Nurses Working with Mentally Ill Patients

Academic journal article Contemporary Nurse : a Journal for the Australian Nursing Profession

Perceived Training Needs of Nurses Working with Mentally Ill Patients

Article excerpt

Background

In most of the world, especially in Asian countries, mental health problems are deeply stigmatizing. This presents serious challenges for patients, their families and healthcare providers. In Malaysia, the number of people being diagnosed with mental illness has been on the increase. Jamaiyah (2000) reported that about 10.7% of Malaysian population were diagnosed with mental illness. Mubarak (2003) reported a mental illness prevalence rate of 10-12% of adults and 13% of children aged between 5 and 15 years, suggesting a much higher prevalence rate among children. Other studies carried out in both urban and rural areas in Malaysia, have also placed the prevalence of mental illness in the population between 9.6% and 35%, respectively (Crabtree & Chong, 2000). The Third National Health and Morbidity Survey (NHMS) conducted by the Malaysian Ministry of Health (MOH) in 2006 reported an overall prevalence of 11.2% psychiatric morbidity among Malaysian adults (Malaysian Ministry of Health, 2006). In 2011, the Malaysian MOH reported the prevalence of severe mental illness to be approximately 1/1000 population. According to the 2011 NHMS, 12% of Malaysians aged between 18 and 60 were suffering from some form of mental illness. The overall prevalence of mental disorders has been found to be almost the same for men and women. However, almost all studies show a higher prevalence of depression among women than men, with a ratio between 1.5:1 and 2:1, as well as higher rates of anxiety and eating disorders (Malaysian Ministry of Health, 2011). Using the Malaysian National Suicide Registry, Ali et al. (2014) reported a suicide rate of 1.18/100,000 population. More than 1000 people were reported to have committed suicide between 2007 and 2010, and a National Suicide Registry shows an increasing suicide rate with an average of about 60 cases being reported every month (Malaysian Ministry of Health, 2011). These statistics generally allude to the seriousness and increasing significance of mental illness in Malaysia.

Malaysia is composed of three main ethnic groups: the Malays (66.1%), Chinese (25.3%) and Indians (7.4%), with different cultural and religious practices (Haque, 2005). Mental health and illness in Malaysia have been conceptualized and addressed differently by people, based on their different ethnocultural and religious perspectives. Previous studies have highlighted the role of religious belief in the conceptualisation of mental health among Malaysian ethnic groups. For instance, Haque (2005) noted that religious myths and taboos have continued to influence how people respond to mental health problems and their help seeking behaviour. In Malaysia, mental illness is commonly viewed as a medical problem, with very little recognition of the influence on work disability (Chong, Mohammed, & Er, 2013). Hence, work accommodations and social inclusion are not usually provided for people with mental health problems. Also, due to limited knowledge of mental illness, poor coping skills and the widespread prevalence of stigma, some families prefer their mentally ill relatives to be treated in hospital or communitybased rehabilitation centres (Chong et al., 2013). This situation very often leads to poor social integration and participation restrictions in many areas of social life for people who have experienced mental illness.

Over the years, the Malaysia government has taken some initiatives to improve mental healthcare delivery. In 1997, the MOH developed the National Mental Health Policy, which was intended to provide comprehensive strategies and guidelines for addressing mental health issues. Generally, the policy was intended to serve the needs of people with mental illnesses, improve their quality of life and create social networks that support the delivery of care within the community. In 2003, the ministry introduced the National Mental Health Registry (NHMR), specifically for monitoring people diagnosed with schizophrenia (Aziz et al. …

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