Thailand facing a mental health crisis, report reveals


Data shows some 10 million Thais suffering from mental health issues, and only 2 million have sought treatment

Recent findings from the Bangkok Mental Health Hospital (BMHH) have revealed a worrisome reality: some 10 million Thais are grappling with mental health issues and only 2 million have sought treatment.

Dr Paweena Srimanothip, CEO of BMHH, said that though the demand for speciality hospitals like those treating mental health issues is rising, there are few players in the market due to a scarcity of skilled professionals. This has resulted in limited competition and predominantly government-owned facilities.

Thailand facing a mental health crisis, report reveals

Yet the demand for mental health services, notably for conditions like depression, continues surging annually, presenting a lucrative opportunity for mental health care providers.

BMHH’s forthcoming six-month strategy focuses on establishing itself as a leading mental health speciality and introducing a dedicated child mental health department by early next year. The department, for which up to 3 million baht has been earmarked, will aim to address the rising youth mental health crisis.

Dr Paweena, meanwhile, revealed alarming statistics of mental health cases in Thailand. She said that there are approximately 10 million affected individuals, of which only 2 million have sought treatment. This exceeds global averages, reflecting a pressing societal issue.

Thailand facing a mental health crisis, report reveals

Data from the Department of Mental Health underscores the severity of the situation, showing that in 2023 4.5% of Thais suffered high levels of stress, 5.8% were at risk of depression and 3.2% considered suicide

These figures rose even higher in 2024, with 15.5% suffering high levels of stress, 17.2% at risk of depression and 10.6% at risk of considering suicide.

According to data collected by the BMHH, the top five most prevalent mental health disorders in Thailand are:

Depression: Especially prevalent among those aged 20-40, when people are at a critical phase of life as they start establishing themselves and supporting their families.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD): Irrational fear, worry, and anxiety without any apparent reason.

Stress: Arising from pressure and tension.

Panic Disorder: Similar symptoms to GAD, but more severe.

Bipolar Disorder: Mood swings.

Dr Paweena said the hospital environment has a significant impact on emotionally vulnerable patients. This is why, she said, BMHH focuses on making patients feel safe and secure in a warm, cosy environment.

Though the hospital has taken strict steps to ensure safety, like removing sharp objects, ensuring doors cannot lock from the inside and installing closed-circuit cameras to keep an eye on patients, great care has also been taken to ensure the interiors do not look like a prison.

“Thai society has become more open, and people’s perceptions of mental health hospitals have changed. People now understand that seeking therapy is one way of navigating life’s challenges. The approach towards providing mental health care is very different from attending to physical health issues because emotions and feelings are heavily involved,” Dr Paweena said.
  Thailand facing a mental health crisis, report reveals Thailand facing a mental health crisis, report reveals