News and Comment: Twenty Percent of Children in Malaysia Suffer From Mental Disorders As A Result Of A Corrupt Social System

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
News & Comment
Twenty percent of Children in Malaysia Suffer from Mental Disorders as a Result of a Corrupt Social System

On the 6th of January 2014, reported that the number of children aged between 5 and 15 with poor mental health is rising, with 20 percent found to be suffering from stress, anxiety and depression according to the latest National Health Morbidity Survey (NHMS). Deputy director-general of Health (Public Health) Datuk Dr. Lokman Hakim Sulaiman said poor mental health could be the result of pressure on students from the high expectations of parents and teachers in academic excellence and individual personality, as well as social, family and interpersonal problems. On December 13, the Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam said school counselors would be given extra training to increase their expertise in counseling students to tackle mental health problems.

It is estimated that children between the ages of 5 to 15 years old is 10% of the total population in Malaysia. Thus, from this total, 60,000 children suffer from mental disorders. How could this occur? According to a study carried out by the President of the Malaysian Mental Health Association (MMHA), it is caused by symptoms of anxiety, severe depression and emotional stress. He added, “A number of factors identified that contributed to mental health disorders are psychosocial factors which encompass aspects of family, home and school as well as social aspects.”

Family factors play a vital role to ensure children obtain the sufficient love and attention they deserve. This is in line with what our Prophet (saw) stated as narrated by Abu Hurairah (ra):  

قَبَّلَ النَّبِىّ صلى الله عليه وسلم الْحَسَنَ بْنَ عَلِىٍّ ، وَعِنْدَهُ الأقْرَعُ بْنُ حَابِسٍ التَّمِيمِىُّ جَالِسًا ، فَقَالَ الأقْرَعُ : إِنَّ لِى عَشَرَةً مِنَ الْوَلَدِ مَا قَبَّلْتُ مِنْهُمْ أَحَدًا ، فَنَظَرَ إِلَيْهِ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم، ثُمَّ قَالَ : مَنْ لا يَرْحَمُ لا يُرْحَمُ

“The Prophet (Sallallahu ‘Alaihi Wa sallam) kissed Al-Hasan bin’ Ali, and beside the Prophet sat Al-Aqro ‘bin Haabis At-Tamimiy. Thus Al-Aqro’ said, “I have 10 children, none of them have I ever kissed.” Therefore, the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) looked towards Al-‘ Aqro ‘and said, “Whosoever does not have mercy / love then he will not be loved/blessed.” 

However, the increase in marital failure leading to divorce has provided a non-conducive environment to children. Parents who often argue and fight in front of their children bring a negative impact on their children’s upbringing. Children will tend to act violently as a result of imitating their parents who fight regularly.  Moreover, this situation also inhibits the healthy mental and physical growth of children. Children will easily act violently, become depressed and suffer from emotional distress because of the pressure obtained at home – a place which should play the role of being the first and primary school for them.

Parents’ focus in seeking wealth leads to them transferring their duty of nurturing their children to others – such as nurseries, schools, or other care-centres. This results in children having no choice but to beg for affection from others. All this is a consequence of the implementation of the corrupt capitalist system in Malaysia that has unfortunately nurtured in many within the society the mindset of prioritizing amassing wealth over family duties. It is also due to the absence of a sound Islamic education and social system that ensure that individuals embrace a clear understanding of their responsibilities in marriage and as parents and implement it in their lives.

 A child deserves the right to gain love and affection from their parents to ensure that they can grow perfectly. Islam has placed the role of educating children as a vital responsibility shouldered by parents. Mothers should serve as the first teachers of their children and household manager of all their household affairs. Therefore, as a woman, they must return to their nature as a mother and not transfer their main responsibility to others. Furthermore, it is only under the Khilafah state that the correct Islamic education and social system will be implemented and the rights of children in all aspects protected, whether they are related to their physical, financial, educational or emotional needs.

Written for the Central Media Office of Hizb ut Tahrir by
Sumayyah Amar
Member of the Central Media Office of Hizb ut Tahrir