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Things You Need to Know about Mental Health in Thailand

Things You Need to Know about Mental Health in Thailand

Thailand, like many countries, grapples with significant challenges related to mental health. Understanding the state of mental health in Thailand is crucial for individuals, policymakers, and healthcare providers alike.

According to UNICEF, millions of Thai youth suffer from poor mental health such as stress, anxiety, and depression due to violence, bullying, loneliness, and COVID-19.

Also, interviews reveal the lack of focus on mental health, along with limited access to support services and information.

In this article, we will explore several key aspects of mental health issues in Thailand.

By shedding light on crucial factors, we aim to provide valuable insights into the landscape of mental health in Thailand and help promote a greater understanding and support for those facing mental health challenges in the country.

What are the concerns related to mental health in Thailand
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Mental health in Thailand is a pressing issue that requires attention. Understanding the state of mental health in Thailand is crucial in addressing the challenges faced by individuals. 

Here, we’ll explore things you need to know about the state of mental health and the most common issues sufferers undergo in Thailand. 

Mental illnesses are prevalent in younger age groups in Thailand

Mental illnesses are prevalent in younger age groups in Thailand
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Dr. Apichat Jariyavilas, a representative of the Department of Mental Health, reported that in 2021, approximately 1.5 million Thai adolescents over the age of 15 experienced depression.

Moreover, the number of individuals affected by psychological disorders and depression in Thailand is growing by 1-2% annually.

There is also a significant prevalence of substance abuse and suicide among Thai people.

DMH’s Mental Health Check-in also conducted a recent evaluation of mental health among teenagers in Thailand. 

The results revealed that 28% of adolescents suffer from significant stress levels, 32% are prone to depression, and 22% are at risk of attempting suicide.

Sleep deprivation
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What’s surprising is that sleep deprivation seems to affect individuals across all generations, with approximately 35% of Gen Z and Millennials experiencing insomnia, and even 28% of Gen X reporting sleepless nights. 

This goes to show that it’s not just the elderly who struggle with getting enough sleep.

Given the prevalence of mental health issues, consumers are now turning to brands for support. They expect mental health to be openly discussed and the associated stigma to be reduced. 

Brands that actively educate consumers, normalise conversations about mental health, and encourage seeking professional help are more likely to win the trust and loyalty of individuals seeking support.

GenerationMental Health State
Gen ZFeeling the loneliest; work/study pressures, peer pressure, and social media influence
Gen XInsomnia
Source: Mintel Research

There’s a stigma surrounding mental issues

There’s a stigma surrounding mental issues
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Stigma surrounding mental health issues is a problem that affects individuals globally, not just in Thailand. However, the stigma in Thailand has a significant impact on people who suffer from mental illnesses. 

People with mental illnesses are often discriminated against, and society holds negative perceptions and stereotypes about them. This stigma can make it difficult for people to seek help, as they may feel ashamed or misunderstood. 

The negative stereotypes can also lead to fear, judgement, and social exclusion, further adding to the challenges people face when dealing with mental health issues.

One reason for the stigma surrounding mental health is the lack of understanding and awareness. 

Many people hold misconceptions and myths about mental illnesses, leading to a lack of empathy and an inability to recognize the signs and symptoms of mental illness.

Social isolation and discrimination
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Society’s expectations and pressure to conform to certain norms also contribute to the stigma. 

People may fear being labelled as “weak” or “crazy” if they admit to struggling with their mental well-being, which can lead to further social isolation and discrimination.

The consequences of this stigma are far-reaching and can lead to prolonged suffering and worsening of mental health conditions. It also affects families and friends who may feel unable to openly discuss their loved one’s struggles.

To address this issue, education and awareness campaigns are being implemented to debunk myths, promote empathy, and encourage open discussions about mental health. 

Additionally, there are calls for policy changes to ensure better access to mental health services and to protect the rights of individuals with mental illnesses.

Breaking down the stigma surrounding mental health issues is essential for creating a supportive and inclusive society that recognizes and addresses the challenges of mental illness.

Causes of mental issues in Thailand are multifactorial

Causes of mental issues in Thailand are multifactorial
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Causes of mental issues in Thailand can be attributed to a combination of various factors:

Common Mental Conditions in Thailand
Impact of Covid-19 Pandemic
Source: UNICEF

According to a joint study by UNICEF, the Ministry of Public Health, the Institute for Population and Social Research, and the Burnet Institute in 2022, approximately 1 in 7 adolescents aged 10-19 and 1 in 14 children aged 5-9 in Thailand have mental health disorders.

Aside from the factors mentioned above, another significant factor is the prevalence of stressful and demanding lifestyles. 

The pressure to excel academically or in one’s career, coupled with societal expectations, can take a toll on mental well-being.

Social factors also play a role. Thailand, like many other countries, experiences issues such as poverty, inequality, and limited access to resources. 

These challenges can contribute to feelings of hopelessness, frustration, and anxiety among individuals.

Furthermore, the stigma surrounding mental health in Thai society adds another layer of complexity. Fear of judgement and social exclusion prevents many people from seeking help and discussing their struggles openly. 

This can exacerbate mental health issues and delay the necessary support and treatment.

Photo with depression
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In recent times, the COVID-19 pandemic has also had a significant impact on mental health. The uncertainty, fear, and disruptions caused by the pandemic have heightened levels of stress, anxiety, and depression in the population.

The closure of businesses and schools has resulted in job losses and financial insecurity. 

This has contributed to increased levels of frustration, desperation, and depression among parents, which can negatively affect family relationships and children.

It’s important to note that each individual’s experience is unique, and the causes of mental health issues can vary from person to person. It’s a complex interplay of biological, psychological, and social factors.

Addressing these causes requires a multi-faceted approach. 

It involves promoting mental health awareness, reducing stigma, providing accessible and affordable mental health services, and creating supportive environments where individuals can seek help without fear or judgement.

Stress is the leading factor of mental health related concerns in Thais

Stress is the leading factor of mental health related concerns in Thais
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Many people in Thailand face challenges related to stress. The fast-paced and demanding nature of modern life often leads to high levels of stress, impacting both physical and mental well-being. 

One common mental health issue caused by stress is depression, characterised by persistent feelings of sadness, loss of interest, and a lack of motivation.

Plus, substance abuse and addiction pose significant challenges to mental health in Thailand, with individuals struggling with the harmful effects of drugs or alcohol.

Thailand has very high suicide rates

Thailand has very high suicide rates
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The annual suicide rate in Thailand was reported by the World Health Organization (WHO) to be 14.4 per 100,000 population in 2019, which is higher than the global age-standardized average of 10.5 per 100,000. 

In Thailand, a suicide attempt is made every 10 minutes. 

Antonio L Rappa, an associate professor at Singapore University of Social Sciences who has researched Thai culture, history, and politics for more than 20 years, suggests that deep-rooted cultural and economic factors contribute to Thailand’s relatively high suicide rate.

Additionally, a study conducted by Chiang Mai University’s Humanities Faculty revealed a potential link between the pandemic and 38 suicides in Thailand, reported on May 2020. 

Disturbing incidents such as individuals threatening self-harm or engaging in suicide pacts have been reported. 

The economic and emotional toll of the crisis has led to a surge in calls for help, with Childline Thailand experiencing a record-high of 2235 calls and chat sessions in April 2020, with mental health concerns accounting for 26% of all requests for assistance.

Seeking Professional Help for Mental Health in Thailand

Seeking Professional Help for Mental Health in Thailand
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Seeking professional help for mental health in Thailand can be challenging due to a range of factors, including stigma surrounding mental health issues and a shortage of mental health professionals. 

However, the Thai government has taken steps to address these issues and promote access to mental health services. Private mental health clinics and hospitals also offer a range of services, including therapy and medication. 

It is important to let people that support are available and they’re not alone.

Therapy session
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Knowing when to seek help from psychologists or psychiatrists is crucial in addressing mental health concerns. It’s important to be aware of the signs and symptoms that indicate the need for professional help. 

Some common indicators include persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness, difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much, loss of interest in activities once enjoyed, changes in appetite or weight, irritability, anxiety, and difficulty concentrating.

It’s important to seek help if these symptoms persist and start to interfere with daily life. 

Additionally, if someone is experiencing thoughts of self-harm or suicide, it is important to seek professional help immediately.

There are several resources available for individuals in Thailand who are seeking help for mental health concerns. One such resource is the Mental Health Department, which operates mental health clinics throughout the country. 

These clinics provide services such as counselling, medication management, and support groups. Additionally, there are several private psychiatric hospitals and clinics that provide specialised care for mental health conditions.

Spreading suicide prevention hotline flyers
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Another option for seeking help is through online resources such as Thailand’s 1323 Counseling for Mental Health Problems’ website, which offers information and support for individuals experiencing mental health issues. 

There are also several non-profit organisations such as Samaritans Thailand, which operates a hotline for individuals in need of emotional support.

For those who are more comfortable seeking help in their native language, there are several English-speaking mental health professionals available in Thailand. 

Some of these professionals may be found through online directories or by asking for referrals from healthcare providers.

ResourceContact Information
Department of Mental Health (DMH)Hotline: 1323 (24-hour) 
Contact number: +66 2 149 5555
Samaritans of ThailandContact number: 02-113-6789 (Daily- 1:00 PM- 11:00 PM)
1323 Counseling for Mental Health ProblemsHotline: 1323 (24-hour)

How does the Thai government address mental health?

How does the Thai government address mental health
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Mental health is an increasingly important issue in Thailand, with a significant portion of the population affected by mental health disorders. 

In light of this, Thailand has made significant progress in addressing mental health policy and legislation in recent years. 

Thailand established its mental health policy in 1995, focusing on advocacy, promotion, treatment, and rehabilitation. The policy aimed to promote mental health maintenance and prevent future mental health issues by providing new treatment services.

In 2002, Thailand introduced universal health coverage to make healthcare affordable, but additional costs can arise for certain treatments. 

The government, private, and non-governmental sectors offer psychiatric services to address mental health concerns in Thailand.

However, many hospitals are struggling due to an overwhelming number of patients, staff shortages, and inadequate government funding. As a result, providing quality care and effective services has become challenging due to insufficient funding.

What kind of mental health services are covered by insurance in Thailand?

What kind of mental health services are covered by insurance in Thailand
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In Thailand, insurance coverage for mental health treatment varies depending on the policy and type of insurance. Private health insurance may cover therapy and medication for mental health, but it could be limited and exclude certain conditions.

Thankfully, there’s a comprehensive social insurance system in Thailand that covers treatment for mild to severe mental disorders. About 93% of the population can access essential psychotropic medications for free.

But, there are still some challenges, such as wait times, long queues, underfunding, and a lack of staff at some hospitals. This can impact the quality of care provided to patients, especially with more advanced or experimental therapies.

Despite these challenges, the social insurance system remains an essential component in making mental health treatment accessible to the majority of the Thai population.

FAQs about Thailand Mental Health

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