Worry stalks streets over cases of mental illness

national September 04, 2018 01:00

By THE NATION

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People urged to help patients get immediate medical help.



NEARLY 30,000 people in Thailand have been hospitalised for violence related to mental disorder, a recent study shows.

The National Institute of Emergency Medicine (NIEM) disclosed yesterday that 28,604 people were hospitalised with symptoms of delirium between January 2017 and June this year. “Call the 1669 hotline if you believe a person is suffering from delirium and needs medical help,” NIEM secretary-general Flight Lieutenant Atchariya Pangma said yesterday.

He was speaking a few days after a video clip of a woman attacking another on a Bangkok street went viral and whipped up a storm of criticism. The attacker was later found to be suffering from a mental disorder. 

Adchara Saravari of the Issarachon Foundation, which has been actively helping the homeless, said this case underlined two issues – public safety and mentally ill patients’ need for help. 

“There are many people with mental problems on the street because psychiatric facilities are overwhelmed. We need to communicate that people with mental |disorders need help and everybody in society should lend a hand,” she said. 

Adchara explained that her foundation had taken doctors to areas frequented by the homeless and mentally affected people. 

“Constant care will help their lives return to normal and they will learn to co-exist with others,” she added. 

According to Atchariya, NIEM and the Mental Health Department have signed a memorandum of understanding on responding to medical emergencies involving mentally ill people.

According to the agreement, a panel has been set up to identify patients suffering from mental illness, while NIEM is planning to provide training to help the mentally ill and deliver first aid. 

“For instance, responders in such cases must be able to evaluate the situation to ensure that the actions taken will be safe for both the patients and themselves,” Atchariya said. 

He said responders should first inform patients that they are there to help, and this way the patient will respond. 

“Sit down and talk. If the patient holds any weapons, make sure they are disarmed before first aid is granted,” he said. 

He added that first aid providers should also know how to protect themselves and have protective gear such as gloves and face masks. 

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