The Ministry of Public Health plans to produce an additional 400 qualified psychiatrists within the next five years, to cope with the country’s rising number of patients.
According to the ministry’s health records, more than 2.5 million people sought psychiatric counselling in the 2022 fiscal year, which ended on October 31st.
Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul estimates that the number of drug addicts who will need psychiatric counselling at about 1.9 million each year, once they are legally considered to be patients.
Drug addicts who are in need of psychiatric counselling are divided into three categories, in accordance with the seriousness of their addiction.
The first are habitual addicts, who need long-term rehabilitation and continuous counselling. There are about 35,000.
The second are those who are addicted and in need of rehabilitation in their localities, helped by psychiatrists. There are about 450,000.
The third are drug users who can be taken care of by people in their communities, in coordination with health officials. Their numbers are estimated at about 1.2 million.
Currently, there are 822 psychiatrists under the Ministry of Public Health and the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration. Of these, 632 are general psychiatrists and 190 are psychiatrists for youth and children. There is an average of one psychiatrist per 100,000 of the population.
Most psychiatrists are, however, concentrated in Bangkok. There are 367 in Bangkok, 114 in the north-eastern region, 112 in central region (excluding Bangkok), 103 in northern region, 83 in southern region and 43 in eastern region.