Medical Journal of Malaysia

MJM, Vol 70 Supplement 1 September 2015

Mental Health: The Unseen Burden

Shubash Shander, Azahadi Omar; Khoo Yi Yi; Fuad Mohamad Anuar; Chandrika Jeevananthan; Siti Fatimah Mat Husin

Centre for Burden of Disease Research, Institute for Public Health, Ministry of Health Malaysia


Introduction: In 2010, mental and behavioural disorders, such as depression, bipolar, schizophrenia, alcohol use and drug use, were the leading cause of Years Lived with Disability (YLDs) worldwide. Mental and substance use disorders accounted for 8·6 million Years of Life Lost due to premature mortality (YLLs) and 175·3 million YLDs, accounting for 183·9 million Disability-adjusted Life Years (DALYs) or 7·4% of all DALYs worldwide.

Methodology: Methods developed by the World Health Organization (WHO) for the Global Burden of Disease (GBD) Study were applied to calculate the burden of disease in terms of YLL, YLD and overall DALYs in Malaysia for 2008. Population and mortality data were provided by the Department of Statistics, Malaysia and estimates from local and international sources were used to for the morbidity component.

Results: Mental health and behavioural disorder was only second to Cardiovascular and Circulatory Disease in overall DALYs for Malaysia in 2008. The DALYs for mental health and behavioural disorder was largely due to YLD (99.6%). Unipolar depressive disorder accounted for 44.4% of the DALYs in the group and was by far the largest contributor among the disorders in mental health and behavioural disorders. Males made up 55.5% of the 265,755 DALYs for mental health and behavioural disorder. Those within 15 – 29 years of age were the largest contributor in both sexes.

Conclusion: The trends of YLD, depressive disorder and younger age group predominance are all similar with other international findings. The population and medical practitioners in Malaysia need to be educated on the disease, the signs and symptoms, treatment and prevention to arrest the growing burden on mental health and behavioural disorder in Malaysia.

Keyword: mental health, DALYs, burden of disease