Several government agencies and a private company have teamed up for a 10-year initiative aimed at addressing mental health issues in the kingdom, Pun-Arj Chairatana, director of the National Innovation Agency (NIA), said yesterday.
They are proposing to use “foresight” future forecasting tools to predict and best manage mental health issues, Mr Pun-Arj said yesterday.
“This is what prompted four organisations to join forces — the NIA, the Future Thai lab, the Electronic Transactions Development Agency, and the Department of Mental Health — to use ‘foresight’ tools that help anticipate and plan for potential problems,” he said.
Mr Pun-Arj was speaking at a conference for the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the organisations and the publication of research on “Futures of Mental Health in Thailand 2033”.
The partnership is aimed at developing innovative solutions and addressing potential obstacles by combining their expertise in innovation, future forecasting, and mental health, he said.
The project’s target year is 2033, making it a ten-year initiative.
Mr Pun-Arj said the collaboration’s goal is to apply innovation and “foresight” to enhance research processes and provide advice on improving the country’s mental health services.
“Improvements will allow medical professionals to spend less time screening and more time providing services to patients, resulting in better care and outcomes,” Mr Pun-Arj said.
Public awareness about the importance of mental health is also important, he added.
Another speaker at the MoU signing event was Dr Varoth Chotpitayasunondh, spokesperson for DMH, who shared research indicating current trends in Thai mental health.
Dr Varoth said that the number of individuals seeking treatment for mental health issues rose from 1.3 million in 2015 to 2.3 million in 2021.
He added that a quarter of children aged 5 to 9 and one-seventh of those aged 10 to 19 have a mental disorder.
Dr Varoth said that people with mental disorders who are not treated can resort to violence.
He added that quality mental health services are vital to addressing such challenges, resulting in better outcomes for both individuals receiving them and society.