By Dr. Chua Sook Ning
The measure: General Health Questionnaire (GHQ)
It has been used by the National Health and Morbidity Survey since 1996.
It is a 12 item questionnaire that taps into psychological distress and is a tool that has a sensitivity score of 86%. This means that there is a 86% chance that if you meet the cut-off score of the GHQ, you are suffering from a diagnosable mental illness.
Over the past decade, the number of individuals who meet the cut-off score in Malaysia has increased steadily over the past decade.
The sample : 17779 Malaysian adults (16 years and above).
1.Prevalence of mental health problems by state.
Sabah, Kelantan, Kuala Lumpur and Sawarak has the highest prevalence of mental health problems.
2. Prevalence of mental health problems by age.
Young people tend to suffer from more mental health problems. There seems to be an increase again after age 75.
3. Prevalence of mental health problems by ethnicity.
There is no difference in prevalence rate among Malays, Chinese and Indians (around 30%). Non-Malay Bumiputras are significantly more likely to suffer from mental health problems.
4. Prevalence of mental health problems by income.
The prevalence rate of mental health problems by higher among the poor and levels off at RM 6000 and above.
There was no significant difference between urban (28.8%) vs. rural (30.3%), and males (27.6%) vs. females (30.8%).
Dr. Chua Sook Ning is a Clinical Psychologist and a lecturer at the National Institute of Education at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. She believes in raising public awareness of mental health by encouraging open and public conversations of mental health. She also is also working on early identification of mental health conditions by promoting mental health screenings and. training communities to recognize mental health conditions. Finally, she is working with a team of international researchers to develop accessible and affordable mental health interventions.