Justice for mental disordered population or those with intellectual and learning disabilities

By:

Badlishah Sham Baharin

Affiliations:

GBM/IKRAM

Policy Code:

2h Persons with Disabilities

Problem Statement:

Mental disordered person or slow learners (including but not confined to those with learning disabilities and global development delay) are among those classified under PWD in Malaysia and they are eligible to register with JKM ang possess OKU card, after assessment and recommendation by healthcare personel. However there is no clear pathway and direction for their future, education and care. The only Act governing Mental disorders in Malaysia is the Mental Heath Act 2001 which has provisions on how to make applications to Court to declare a person mentally disordered and incapable of managing his/her own affairs. The courts can then appoint a Committee to manage the mentally disordered person. The definition of mental disorder is restrictive (“mental illness, arrested or incomplete development of the mind, psychiatric disorder or any other disorder or disability of the mind however acquired”) and does not deal with temporary loss of mental capacity. There is a lacuna in the law on those who have mental incapacity due to learning and intellectual disabilities and then recover or whose mental capacity improves with therapy, medication and/or with early intervention. There is no policy and SOP in terms of how to properly identify, carry out the important necessary investigations, diagnose them early and follow them up for serial assessment. Their disability type is not physical and do not involve body structure and these make them easily missed and furthermore their issues are not clearly defined in black and white. Because of that, most of this population who are not identified, that go to mainstreamschool and placed in mainstream classes (and not catered to the needs of the child) and therefore perform badly in academics and deprived of a chance of gaining skills and some degree of recovery if early intervention or treatment is given. When they grow up they have difficulties to perform at work, or even in terms proper care for their dependents. If they are lucky their life stories or they themselves are captured by those that can identify their problems and bring them to attention.

Value(s) and Belief(s):

We need to care for the vulnerable population of those who lack mental capacity and be able to plan for their future as parents and caregivers. It is unacceptable to leave the gap in the law unfulfilled as this would assist this group of the population who lack mental capacity to be planned for and not end up vulnerable and behind bars or victims of the criminal justice system. We need to move away from neglecting this group, and draw up laws and guidelines, SOP and policy to ensure their future is safe and protected. We should make sure welfare of our PWD does not only involve giving them physical comfort, but also should include planning on how to identify them early and assisting direction of their life progression from cradle to the grave.

Proposal of Solution:

1. To enact the Mental Capacity Act similar to Singapore and UK legislation for ease of planning .
2. Ministry of Health must come up with SOP on how to identify them since childhood age.
3. Ministry of Health and Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development must discuss together to come up with a policy for them that consist of algorithm and pathway of care for them and agency to follow them up lifelong.

Additional Information:

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