6 June 2024

A public healthcare network is seeking a policy change to help people with mental illnesses get the treatment they need, as some are struggling to access both treatment and medication.

The network has submitted a petition to Public Health minister Cholnan Srikaew yesterday.

In the petition, the network asks the minister to increase the number of psychiatrists and psychotherapists, as patients currently have to wait a long time for treatment. Moreover, they currently have limited choices regarding treatment and medicine.

The petition also asks the minister to add more medications to the National List of Essential Medicine. This would reduce expenses for patients, who would no longer have to pay for the drugs. The network also hopes that patients with mental health problems will spend less time waiting for transfers to other hospitals.

In some cases, patients end up not taking their medicines, leading to chronic mental illness, potential self-harm and community violence. Cholnan informed the network about the government’s efforts to train more personnel, including psychiatrists and psychiatric nurses. They also plan to open new psychiatric wards in all hospitals under the Ministry of Public Health, to accommodate various types of mental health patients.

The National Health Security Office (NHSO) is already considering adding mental health medications to the National List of Essential Medicine, as this would make treatment more accessible.