First of all, I wish to take the opportunity to thank all members for giving me the trust to be the president elect for the second time. I am indeed honored when there are no single objections and I am receiving 100 percent support from all members of associations. On a lighter note, you are apparently even going to mosques, churches and temples to pray for me to take up the post again. I thank god for answering all your prayers and personally I felt it happened through the grace of god. My promise is to deliver the best performance and to make changes so that our services to patients are not only relevant but of seven stars. I also do wish to thank the present committee members for their hard work and for their continual support.
Our project priority is to fight against discrimination and stigmatization, which our psychiatric patients are still inherited from the past. One biggest problem which contributes to it is the low budgets for new psychiatric medication such as atypical antipsychotic. I have personally put up a paper on the Malaysian Psychiatric Association of the upscaling of atypical antipsychotics and I do hope to send it for approval by the Ministry of Health. The easy availability of new medication will hopefully improve our patients’ conditions and will ensure them to have a better quality of life.
Discrimination also arises from our community’s low literacy rate on mental illness. I am currently working closely with the media to deliver more information about mental health. Knowing the significance of journalists to impart our mission we also plan to honor journalists for their work. The association is planning to put up a journalist award for those who contribute in giving better information about mental illness in their media write up. We do realize that patients, and especially those who are suffering from chronic disease, seem to lose their opportunity either in work or in education. Through our Circle of Care and HOPE projects we are trying to organize programs for our chronic patients to be given some financial help for them to be trained again. We do hope that more companies and philanthropies will come forward and contribute with financial aids for this project to go on.
Another way of obvious discriminations is about the prison-like environments that psychiatric wards are being designed. Through my visits to many psychiatric wards I still see that our patients are placed in big cages and as a result, there is not much interaction between patients and staff. Of course, if you are the family members of such patients, I do not think you would like to admit your family member, who is psychiatrically ill, in these ward settings.
The irony of not wanting to change the way that our setting should be more conducive apparently came from some of our members. They are still thinking the old prison-like ward should be maintained so as to retain the past glory of mental illness in this country. I personally consider this group of people as evil. These people hate the light of goodness because it reveals their badness. They hate anyone who wishes to change our prison-like settings and bring in the more humane ward settings for patients, because it will reveal their laziness. Hence, they will show their power to legitimize their own laziness and to preserve the integrity of their sick mind.
I do pray that the 50 years of MERDEKA spirit will change these evil minds and free them from the fear of change. My other biggest mission is to make Malaysia the hub for psychiatric research. We are fortunate because our era now is the time when psychiatry as a research subject is at its developing stages. There are a lot more things we can contribute to it. Since the research curve in psychiatry is at its projectile stage therefore more opportunities are waiting for us to grab. We are trying hard to plan programs and to try lobbying for more grants to meet this objective. I do sincerely hope that psychiatrists in universities can work together with those in government and in private sites to produce more multi center studies.
Professor Dr Mohamad Hussain Habil
President of Malaysian Psychiatric Association