BANGKOK, 10th August 2013 - Public Health Minister Sorawong Thienthonge has disclosed that over 600,000 Thai people call the mental health hotline each year asking for advice on stress management.
According to Mr. Sorawong, the Ministry of Public Health has had new policies aimed at promoting good mental health for the public regardless of age or sex, as well as encouraging the public to deal with stress sensibly and correctly. The Ministry has assigned the Mental Health Department's 14 Mental Health Centers and 18 hospitals under its supervision to promote counseling services to relieve stress and give professional advice to the public. However, the service has not been greatly popular in the past due to the Thai society’s misconception that seeing a psychologist to discuss mental health will make others think of them as mentally disordered. Stress, therefore, may accumulate, which could lead to depression and incorrect methods to manage it, causing social problems.
Unlike in foreign countries where counseling is popular and is a regular procedure in managing stresses, few Thais seek professional counseling services. The Department of Mental Health’s hotline numbers for counseling are 1323 and 1667, through which the public can avail themselves to the initial advice of 31 staff psychiatric nurses 24 hours a day. Records from 2012 showed that people usually asked for advice on topics such as work, love life, drug and alcohol abuse, and sex, as well as mental health in general.