Department of Mental Health releases worrying stats of increased anxiety among Thais as the pandemic continues

The continuation of the coronavirus pandemic around the globe has left Thais struggling to cope with the severe crisis, according to the Department of Mental Health on Thursday.

This is compounded by a chain of economic downturns and effects that have continued to follow the outbreak, which will result in dire health problems and stress levels among the population, according to the department’s deputy-general Dr Jumpot Promsida.

People are experiencing stress, anxiety, and depression. It may even lead them to suicide, Dr Jumpot added.

Medical personnel are also experiencing exhaustion and hopelessness due to the outbreak.

The department’s new survey shows an increase in mental health problems among Thais:

  • Stress levels: medical personnel increased from 4.8 to 7.9 per cent; while the general public increased from 2.7 per cent to 4.2 per cent
  • Mental fatigue/exhaustion/burnout: medical personnel increased from 5.0 to 6.5 per cent; while the general public increased from 3.3 to 3.6 per cent
  • Depressive symptoms: medical personnel increased from 1.4 to 3.0 per cent; while the general public increased from 0.9 to 1.6 per cent
  • Desire to hurt themselves: medical personnel increased from 0.6 to 1.3 per cent; while the general public increased from 0.7 to 0.9 per cent

One of the leading causes behind the increase may be due to the easing of lockdown measures.

This has raised anxiety levels in both healthcare workers and the public as they worry over the possibility of another outbreak (coined the fourth wave of COVID-19), Dr Jumpot said.

These factors can cause even more stress, depression and anxiety among the population, according to the new survey.

The low rate of mental health symptoms in the previous survey could be attributed to the government’s early relaxing measures, according to the department.

Another factor stems from the fact that, as a whole, the global situation of the pandemic has far from improved. 

The anxiety of the fourth wave, as well as the demands to continuously alter lifestyles and economic decisions due to the ever-changing landscape of the pandemic, may also cause repeated anxiety and stress among the population.

The possible arrival of the fourth wave will require medical personnel and the population to adapt with flexibility and a fighting spirit, said Dr Jumpot.

He stressed that it is incredibly vital to have the right mindset during this time. By looking at things constructively and positively, people will be able to see more opportunities than obstacles. 

A mindset that is able to tolerate and deal with such pressure will also be strong, stable, resilient, and resistant to external influences, he added.

Another important source of encouragement is the support and positivity from family and those around you. 

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