A Royal University of Phnom Penh academia said the department of psychology is seeing a decrease in student interest due to a lack of human resources.
Phan Chan Pov, president of the psychology department at the university, said there are only about 50 students enrolled in the department each year.
Mr Chan Pov noted that when compared to other subjects, students do not perform as well as those enrolled to study other subjects.
“Some students do not understand this subject,” he said. “Even if there is only a small amount of students enrolled to study psychology, we try to have enough human resources to support 50 students.”
Mr Chan Pov said students should study psychology because of how useful the subject can be for employment.
Hang Muy Gech, an accounting student, said that she would have much rather prefer to study mental health issues, but added that she was not interested in the career path.
“We [students] think that this subject is [viable] as a career path,” Ms Muy Gech said. “We think that it’s only about people with mental illness, old people and there’s too much stress involved. That’s why some students do not prefer this subject.”
However, she said that regardless of her career path, she will attend psychology events in order to understand the issue of mental health and understand human beings and how to eliminate stress.
Vy Phedey, a student who recently graduated from high school, said that she will major in psychology.
“For me, I think that if a subject has only a small amount of students, it means that there will be a big demand in the job market later,” Ms Phedey said. “So I hope that I will get a job and be able to help society. Mental illness is a real problem and we need to have experts.”
Chak Thida, vice director of the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital, said about 400 people come in once a day to check their mental health.
Mr Thida said the hospital is in need of additional human resources.
“We need mental health experts to be able to speak to patients and our staff is limited,” he said. “We try to accommodate every patient that walks through the door, regardless of our limitations.”
Pich Panha, an official with the Transcultural Psychology Organisation Cambodia, said that mental health is an issue that needs to be addressed.
“Mental illness can come from family crisis or from individuals themselves,” Mr Panha said. “If individuals think that they are in need of help, please find someone to talk to.”