A budget totaling 686 million baht has been approved by the Cabinet for a mental health service network development project to address a shortage of psychiatrists and psychotherapists in Thailand.
Mental Health Department (DMH) Director-General Dr Amporn Benjaponpitak said Thailand currently has around 800 psychiatrists, which is highly concerning given the increasing number of patients in the country. With a ratio of one psychiatrist per 100,000 people, a patient might have to wait for nearly half a year before receiving consultation.
Dr Amporn stressed that the ratio for Thailand fell short of the World Health Organization’s recommendation of one psychiatrist for every 10,000 people. She also said the country would have to spend at least 10 years providing five times the number of psychiatry graduates that they currently do to meet the WHO recommendations.
Aside from personnel shortages, the director-general emphasized that a lack of societal welfare also has a role in inadequate mental health services. She noted that professionals in these fields are underpaid, citing that staff on mental health hotlines who deal with serious mental illnesses such as suicidal thoughts on a daily basis are being paid at the general rate due to a lack of proper classification.
She stressed the importance of tackling these concerns and expanding proactive approaches focused on community building or preventive measures. (NNT)