11 July 2024

Move Forward MP Sirilapas Kongtrakarn has never hidden her personal struggles while forging a political career dedicated to improving access to Thailand’s mental health services.

True to form, the 36-year-old politician talked movingly about her fight with depression as she demanded more public funding for mental healthcare during a parliamentary debate on the budget bill last Friday.

“I speak for people who have battled depression and other mental disorders, including mothers with postpartum depression and the elderly. Please pay attention and help us. Let’s ensure they receive proper treatment,” Sirilapas said, with tears welling in her eyes.

File photo : Move Forward MP Sirilapas Kongtrakarn

Depression survivorSirilapas, nicknamed Mew, regularly shares her experiences of struggling with depression for years, trusting that her stories may give fellow sufferers the courage to endure and one day overcome the condition.

“I hope my stories can offer lessons to others. It [depression] is not something you have to be ashamed of. Such conditions can be treated. We can get over depression and move ahead,” she said.

She counts herself as a prime example of how getting treatment can help sufferers live a quality life and even contribute to society.Beauty in showbiz
Sirilapas is accustomed to the pressure of the public spotlight, having entered showbiz while she was still a teenager. She stepped into the limelight at the tender age of 16 when she was named second runner-up at Miss Teen Thailand 2003.

Photo : FB

In 2009, she joined Miss Thailand Universe and was chosen as one of 12 finalists. Good looks and talent have earned her roles in more than 40 television series and three movies. She has also hosted as many as eight TV programs.Educational backgroundDespite entering showbiz at a young age, Sirilapas managed to balance her entertainment career with her academic studies. She graduated from Kasetsart University’s Faculty of Humanities with a bachelor’s degree with second-class honors.She went on to pursue a master’s degree at the Sripathum University’s Faculty of Communication Arts, where she achieved an impressive grade point average of 4.00.Tough times and suicide attemptsOver the past two decades, Sirilapas has made headlines both for her showbiz success and for drama in her personal life. The media have shone a bright spotlight on her love life, particularly the bad breakups with boyfriends. Social media is also full of her photos and video clips, much of which show her in sexy poses and gestures.

Sirilapas has admitted to heavy drinking and bouts of depression that have blighted periods of her life. At one point, alcoholism damaged her short-term memory to the point where she was incapable of writing, she said.

At times, she has been so down and emotionally devastated that she did not want to live any longer. When the pain became unbearable, she began self-harming, inflicting deep cuts on her arms that left scars. She describes how she even attempted suicide with sleeping pills several times.Political debutSirilapas is among the ranks of celebrities who openly criticized Prayut Chan-o-cha’s military-backed governments. She believes she was persecuted by the authorities for her political comments, claiming police officers followed her even when she stopped for a toilet break at a filling station.

However, her political stance also caught the eye of the liberal Move Forward Party. She became a Move Forward member just over a year ago, then ran as an MP candidate in Bangkok’s Constituency 14 at last May’s election. Although a newcomer to politics, she worked hard on the campaign trail and was elected to Parliament.  Learning from mistakesSirilapas has refused to bow down to criticism about her past behavior and lifestyle. She says the positive things in her past have become beautiful memories that inspire her to live well. She adds that the negatives have become lessons she uses in order not to repeat her mistakes.

“I have become more mature now and my mission is about making changes that improve Thailand,” she said.

By Thai PBS World’s General Desk