How do mental health problems affect women in Chiang Khong?

Thailand, the Land of Smiles, is experiencing a mental health crisis. As mental health is downplayed by Thai society, sufferers prefer to cope with their feelings alone, which can lead to anxiety or even depression. [1]

The state of mental health in Thailand is an urgent issue that requires attention. The number of people affected by mental disorders and depression is increasing by 1-2% every year. [2]

Factors influencing mental health

Various factors can lead to mental health problems and can be responsible for the worsening of mental health:

  • The country’s culture and social norms
  • Pressure from family
  • Social Media and
  • A lack of support [1]

Mental health problems on the rise in Thailand

From 2015 to 2021, the number of mental health problems in Thailand has increased from 1.3 million to 2.3 million, and the number of suicides has also risen. Of all the regions in Thailand, suicide seems to be most prevalent in the north. Northern provinces such as Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Phrae, Nan and Lampang recorded a high number of suicides. In June 2022, it was estimated that 1.35 million Thais suffered from depression. The number of patients treated for depression rose from 4,295 in 2013 to 259,467 in 2017. [3]

Married women are affected most

Married women are particularly affected by mental health issues because in Thai society, married women are expected to take care of their families, be good mothers and wives and make sacrifices for the family. Consequently, they are trapped in the role of the good wife. A lack of support from their husbands increases the risk of mental health problems (Bird & Rieker, 2008). Society’s expectations of women can lead to chronic stress and, as a result, to depression (Van Praag, 2005).[4]

Implementation and results of the survey conducted by Center for Girls

Center for Girls conducted a survey with the communities it works with in Chiang Khong. The aim of this survey was to find out how the women feel and how mental health problems are dealt with in the individual communities. In this survey, which we conducted ourselves, family problems were named as one of the main problems. 29 women between the ages of 18 and 56 from 11 different communities took part in this survey. Of these, 21 women were married.

This survey identified that the problem is not that individual communities lack knowledge or awareness of mental health issues, but that their own social environment should be more supportive and understanding of their mental health. The women have pointed out that they lack someone in their communities who is knowledgeable about mental health issues. Someone they can turn to at any time.

All the women who took part in the survey were part of a training program that campaigns for women’s and children rights. This training was carried out by Center for Girls and will be continued on an ongoing basis. By creating awareness, through educational work, workshops and community leaders, it is possible to change the image that currently prevails about mental disorders. This gives those affected the opportunity to stop hiding, suppressing or even being ashamed of their mental health problems and to seek help and support.

Given the increasing number of people affected by mental disorders and depression, it is more important than ever to raise awareness and sensitize people in order to support those affected and change society’s perception of mental disorders.

[1] Article on What is the State of Mental Health in Thailand?
[2] Article on Things You Need To Know About Mental Health In Thailand
[3] Article on Lack of psychiatrists leaves Thailand grappling with rising suicides, depression
[4] Gender Inequality Identified as an Underlying Cause of Depression in Thai Women


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