Thailand’s Mental Health Department will coordinate with the National Health Security Office to push for the inclusion of psychiatric medication in the National List of Essential Medicines, to cope with the rise in psychiatric patients, especially those suffering from major depressive disorders (MDD), according to Dr. Amporn Benjaponpitak, director-general of Mental Health Department.
She said that the number of MDD cases in Thailand increased from 30,247 in 2020 to 33,891 cases last year, which coincided with the COVID-19 pandemic and which is in line with the global trend.
She said, however, that the Ministry of Public Health takes a proactive approach in working with its network to screen people at risk of depressive disorders, so that they can have access to appropriate treatment.
Dr. Amporn also said more wards for psychiatric patients should be opened in state hospitals, in addition to the 20 psychiatric hospitals in the country.
She said that, currently, there are 325 trained psychiatrists and about 2,800 psychiatric medics, such as nurses and psychologists, which is sufficient to cope with the number of psychiatric patients, adding that Thailand has high proportion of psychiatric medical staff compared to other countries in Asia.
In addition to medical facilities and medication, she said that families and close relatives can play a key role in providing initial help and moral support to patients.