During the unprecedented time of COVID-19, people are more concerned about their physical health to prevent infections – using face masks, cleaning hands often with soap or hand sanitizer. Besides, people are unconsciously suffering mental health problems with fear, stress and anxiety.
According to data from the department of mental health, it showed that around 73.91% of Thais have moderate mental health problems, followed by mild illness at 20.37% and severe level at 5.72%. The survey was made weekly between Mar 24 and May 24 with 1,500 respondents. Additionally, Thailand are facing the growing trend of suicide rates, increasing from 6.03 from 2018 to 6.64 in late last year. (The figure is per 100,000 people)
Those numbers flag an urgency of how people to cope with mental health crisis during this tough time. In an interview, Pichai Ittasakul, the secretary general at The Psychiatric Association of Thailand (PAT), discusses about the current situation of mental health, symptoms development of mental illness and how to develop and maintain positive energy during COVID-19 time.
How is the current situation of Thais’ mental health?
The increasing numbers of news reports about suicidal incidents during this unprecedented time can identify the rise of mental illness amongst Thais, suffering from stress, anxiety and depression. Those symptoms are developed and influenced by various preventive measures against COVID-19, including social distancing, lockdown and emergency decree, which inevitably created social issues, such as job loss, increasing unemployment rates and domestic violence.
Stress, fear and anxiety may lead to the chemical imbalance in the brain, resulting in reduction in self-confidence, imposter syndrome, self-harm or even suicidal behavior.
What factors may result in suicidal behavior?
Suicide behavior is a result of inner and external factor. Inner factor includes personality, maladaptive behavior, physical pain and trauma. External factor covers social, environmental and economic problems. Suicide can happen with every level of income earners whether they are poor or rich.
Why are people committed suicide?
Suicide disease sufferers often fall under isolation. They want to exit from the intense pain, higher rates of depression and suffering that exists. If they notice alternative solutions to solve their problems, the attempt of committing suicide will be less likely.
How to prevent suicidal attempt?
The key principles to suicidal prevention is mental care when stress happens. If you find out that yourself fall under fear and anxiety, you should find other activities to relax yourself, like listening to music, do not too much time on social media, eating good food, exercise or find someone you trust and talk to. Do not use alcohol or drugs as they often contribute to suicidal thoughts and behavior. If you are working from home, you should live your life as normal like the day you work in the office. This also helps reduce your stress.
How do family members can recognize symptoms of suicidal behavior?
There are a number of potential signs for suicide, particularly changes in personality, sadden calmness, seclusion and withdrawing from social contact.
How do family members can help prevent?
Family plays the essential role in prevention stage, letting the person know you are here to listen with empathy, acceptance and no judgement. You stand beside them. If the symptoms gets worse, you should encourage them to speak to their health care team.
Today, Thais can access the primary of psychiatric consultation via hotline 063-474-0061 to 0065 with free of charges. The mental health experts from PAT will standby for receive your call. Otherwise, you can ring 1323 to seek advise from the mental health department. In the end, family members or relatives should take those with suicidal behavior to the hospital.
Many of you might be worried about image that you have been involved with mental illness. I would say that all medical records will be secure secretly and it is very a common practice in the society today.
How to overcome fear and anxiety during post-COVID-19?
Fear and anxiety are understandable symptoms that cam happen to everyone when it comes to uncertainties. However, we should not let it goes uncontrollably, which may affect our daily lives. Anxiety is a natural human reaction to stress, letting us to be prepared for something unexpected in the near future.
When anxiety happens, we should recognize your triggers and stay with the current moment. Do your best and let it go. Live normal life.
It’s not everyone can follow the government’s measures, such as social distancing at home due to financial hardship and living condition. It may also cause domestic violence in some cases. How do we cope with this?
I would like to suggest everyone in the family to develop positive energy. It is a solution that help ease stress level. During this tough time, negative energy can happen easily, which may lead to dysfunctional family. Hence, the key factor to let us get through this unprecedented time is “positive energy.”
Where is negative energy and how to develop it?
Every coin has two sides. Every incident also has both positive and negative prospect. During COVID-19 crisis, we might be surrounded by bad energy. But you can develop positive energy by seeing positive side instead of negativity. Once you do it, the world will basically become your oyster.
In response to growing concern about mental health problems during COVID-19, PAT is providing a counseling service for medical staff and general people through hotlines from 063-474-0061 to 0065, without any call charges or via Line @898TVZQW. dtac has equipped the PAT’s volunteering service, joining forces to provide social impact under the mission “dtac fights back against COVID-19”