Southern unrest shatters mental health of local residents

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SONGKHLA, April 20 – Over 4,000 residents of Thailand’s lower South are experiencing mental health problems owing to the ongoing insurgency-related violence, Deputy Public Health Minister Surawit Khonsomboon said Friday.

Mental health data monitoring of unrest-affected southern residents showed that 4,854 persons suffered mental health problems, Dr Surawit said on Friday. Nine per cent, 450 persons, were diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder with symptoms including flashbacks of a shocking incident, difficulty in falling asleep and being easily spooked. They must use medications to control their symptoms.

About one in five — 22 per cent, or a sample of 1,087 residents —  were at risk of having mental health difficulties.

Following continued rehabilitation, local health authorities found that the risk of facing metal health problems among the affected residents was reduced by 83 per cent.

The deputy public health minister on Friday chaired a meeting with provincial health chiefs, hospital directors and psychologists working in the seven southern provinces of Satun, Trang, Patthalung, Songkhla, Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat at Hat Yai Hospital to brainstorm on how to better provide comprehensive mental rehabilitation services.

Prior to the meeting, Dr Surawit visited four victims of Hat Yai’s March 31 car bombing who remain hospitalised.

Currently, all are in stable condition and receiving treatment for burns.