ABOUT A FIFTH of the Thai population, or as many as 13 million people, have at some time or the other suffered from mental problems such as stress and anxiety disorder, surveys conducted over the past three years show.
Narong Sahametapat, permanent secretary of the Public Health Ministry, revealed yesterday that more than 3 million Thais had sought medical treatment related to mental disorders in 2011.
“The number of these patients is expected to rise as city lifestyle is expanding over increasingly wider areas,” he said.
People in urban areas live independently and have little support from others, unlike rural areas, where people often live with their extended families and have friendly neighbours, he said.
3 million sought help in 2011
Narong added that about 1,090,000 patients had sought treatment from 17 psychiatric facilities across the country in 2011.
“The rest were treated at general hospitals,” he said.
This year, the Public Health Ministry has allocated Bt360 million for the construction of a 200-bed psychiatric hospital in Phitsanulok’s Wang Thong district.
The construction should be ready by 2017.
With this facility, patients |in Phitsanulok will not need to travel too far to get specialised treatment.
Wachira Pengjuntr, the Public Health Ministry’s deputy permanent secretary, said continuous treatment and proper counselling have proved effective in reducing suicide rates.
“The number of suicides dropped by 12 per cent to 248 in 2013, down from 279 a year earlier,” he pointed out.