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Paintings on smartphone addiction and other conditions to feature at Universiti Malaya’s programme for Mental Health Awareness Month

YOU’VE heard of World Autism Awareness Month, Breast Cancer Awareness Month and many other awareness months that seek to bring forward issues that people often don’t know enough about. This month of October however there’s something else to look forward to than just Halloween: it’s Mental Health Awareness Month!

Not many understand what mental illness entails in Malaysia; people who hear it associate mental illness with “going crazy” or even going as far as to claim it’s all made-up. It’s become such a stigma within the community that people who suffer from mental problems would rather keep it to themselves and refuse to get professional help. In fact, we hear it is apparently more culturally appropriate to seek help from shamans.

Based on the recent National Morbidity Health Survey 2015 (NMHS2015), it has been found that nearly 30% of Malaysians suffer from a mental health condition. This means that around 9 million Malaysians around are afflicted by conditions such as attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD), anxiety disorder, depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, substance use disorder and dementia.

In hopes of bringing awareness towards mental illnesses, Universiti Malaya (UM)’s Department of Psychological Medicine has teamed up with Malaysian Medical Gazette, Malaysian Mental Health Association, Malaysian Psychiatric Association and Befrienders Kuala Lumpur to organise a month long showcase to celebrate art created by individuals with mental illness.

A whooping total of 111 artworks will be displayed at the UM Art Gallery during the entire month of October in conjunction with University Malaya’s 111th anniversary. In fact, renown author, artist and psychiatrist Dato Dr Tan Chee Khuan is donating five paintings on smartphone addiction!

You can check out the full showcase at University Malaya Art Gallery on the 5th floor, Chancellery Building but a smaller scale exhibition is held in the UMMC concourse during this whole week in conjuncton with Mental Health Awareness Day on 10 October. There will also be public events available on 22 October at the UM Art Gallery where talks and forums on everything about mental health will be held. Make sure also to watch videos of what it’s like to deal with anxiety and depression!


Free your schedule and head to University Malaya to educate yourself about mental health so you’ll be ready to help those around you and yourself. There’s no entry fee but spots are limited so contact+603 7949 2854 for registration and more inquiries.

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