Teens face pandemic woes

Teens face pandemic woes

Thailand Policy Lab says many Thai teens have expressed their worries on social media through more than 100,000 messages, signalling a possible mental health problem among youths.

The organisation, established by Thailand's Office of the National Economic and Social Development Council and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), held a seminar on Thursday highlighting issues of mental health among Thai teens.

Data collected showed the messages, posted amid the coronavirus pandemic, gained more than 10 million engagements, including public shares, likes and comments.

After analysing the messages, Pongpanott Deekong, Policy and Social Innovation Specialist for Thailand Policy Lab, said "stressed" was the most posted keyword under its mental issue aspect, while "lonely" was found in more than 42,000 messages under the social aspect.

The keyword "insomnia" was found 2,700 times under Thailand Policy Lab's physical aspect, while "clueless" was expressed under the education aspect, he said.

Other keywords indicate that some students were anxious, worried, burnt out and had suicidal thoughts, he said, adding the cause of these concerns came from online learning.

Jos Vandelaer, World Health Organization Representative to Thailand, said the pandemic has exacerbated mental health problems among students. One in seven Thai teens suffers from mental illness which has symptoms such as insomnia and loneliness, triggering suicidal thoughts, he said. He said young women are more likely to develop mental illness.

Thailand Policy Lab said the data it has collected will lead to policy development to aid Thai youths who suffer from mental health issues.

Mental health problems can occur during adolescence and will have consequences lasting until adulthood, Dr Vandelaer said, adding that it is important to promote mental wellbeing as much as possible.

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