The Royal University of Phnom Penh’s department of psychology has seen a decrease in students and its dean has blamed a lack of human resources and decreased interest in the subject.
Phan Chan Pov, dean 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 the 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 studying 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 she would have studies mental health issues, but the subject was not a viable choice career-wise.
“Students think that this subject is not 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 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 recent high school graduate, 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 patients are treated for mental health issues daily at the hospital.
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,” she said. “We try to accommodate every patient that walks through the door, regardless of our limitations.”