Depression sufferers out in the cold

Pech Sotheary / Khmer Times No Comments Share:
Health Ministry officials say that research shows people have little understanding of depression. KT/Mai Vireak

Cambodians lack awareness of depression and have negative views of people with mental illnesses in comparison with other countries in the region, according to a Health Ministry report.
 
The research found that 400,000 Cambodian adults suffer from depression – on a par with global averages.
 
However, a lack of understanding means people with the condition face social and economic disadvantages and fail to seek medical help.
 
The research was presented yesterday at a Health Ministry news forum ahead of World Health Day tomorrow.
 
Chhit Sophal, the head of mental health and substance abuse at the ministry, said officials questioned people living in Phnom Penh and Kandal province as part of the research and found they had little understanding of depression compared with neighboring countries.
 
He said people had a bad attitude toward the issue of depression and openly discriminated against and looked down upon those with the condition.
 
Mr. Sophal warned depression harms people’s health and family finances, as well as the national economy and society at large.
 
He said: “When people do not understand what depression is they don’t seek treatment. They stay home and they stay sick. Not only is their health affected but the economy suffers because they are not able to work.
 
“Globally, there is the loss of $1 trillion from this disease each year.”
 
He estimated 400,000 Cambodian adults have depression, in line with the global figure of 300 million people, or about four percent of the world’s population.
 
Yim Sobotra, the head of mental health and substance abuse at the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital, said a person with depression can be identified by symptoms such as loss of interest or pleasure in life, decreased energy, feelings of guilt or worthlessness, hopelessness, insomnia and a lack of appetite.
 
He said depression has a major impact on the daily lives of individuals, some of who are driven to commit suicide.
 
World Health Organization representative Yel Daravuth said everyone needs to be aware that depression is an illness so sufferers seek treatment such as counseling.
 
“If we have a problem, we need to raise it. If we hide depression away and discriminate against patients, it makes the issue more challenging to address,” he said.
 
“So we have to be brave and speak out and spread the information that people with mental illnesses are victims, not trouble makers. If we discriminate against those who do seek treatment, it makes the problem even bigger.”
 
According to the Health Ministry, there are 177 mental health services at hospitals and health centers across the country. Officials acknowledge the number of services is too low and have pledged to expand them.

Share and Like this post

Related Posts

Previous Article

Laos breaks promise to withdraw forces from border

Next Article

Unesco dances with controversy