11 July 2024

Mental health problems in Thailand are on the rise while the number of people seeking treatment increased from 1.3 million in 2015 to 2.9 million in 2023, according to the National Economic and Social Development Council (NESDC).

The number of Thai people suffering from mental health issues is reportedly reaching 10 million, which exceeds the global average, indicating that there are still many people who have not received treatment.

Based on data from the Mental Health Department, collected between October 1, 2023 and April 22, 2024, the NESDC notes a concerning trend.

Approximately 15.48% of Thailand’s population reported experiencing stress, 17.20% exhibit signs of depression, and 10.63% percent were at risk of suicidal ideation. These figures indicate a deteriorating situation over recent years.

Mental health problems not only impact individuals, they also have broader economic implications. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), depression and anxiety lead to an annual loss of 12 billion working days globally, resulting in an estimated economic loss of US$1 trillion.

Nearly one in five people with mental health issues are unable to care for themselves, placing strain on households that must provide their caretakers, resulting in a loss of human resources.

Moreover, fewer than one in four people with a serious mental illness associated with a high risk of violence receive adequate care and monitoring.

Economic and societal pressures contribute to depressive and anxiety disorders among Thai people. In the 2023 fiscal year, the proportion of people with such disorders was notably high, exceeding the number of people with mental illnesses caused by drug abuse.

The suicide rate in the same year, 7.94 per 100,000 population, approached levels last seen during the Tom Yum Kung financial crisis, when it reached 8.59 per 100,000 population.

Environmental factors also play a significant role in mental health. Thailand is facing issues such as PM2.5 air pollution, which ranks among the highest globally, and must remain vigilant in addressing these environmental concerns.