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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Thailand battling mental health concerns caused by the pandemic

Cita Catellya



Job losses, bankruptcies, sickness and fear are just a few of the side-affects felt by the Covid-19 pandemic. For many in Thailand and all over the world, this has a profound impact on the mental health of everyday people. The suicide rate in Thailand has also seen a spike, with 22% more suicides recorded in the first half of 2020 when compared to the same period in 2019. A sharp increase not witnessed since the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis.

Even before the pandemic struck, Thailand was on record as having the most suicides of any country in SE Asia. As per WHO data, in 2019 Thailand’s suicide rate was 14.4 per 100k population, compared to a global average of 10.5 per 100k population.

Thailand’s tourism industry has been hit the hardest, having made up 12% of the country’s GDP before the international travel bans took their hold. Thailand welcomed 39m tourists in 2019, the outlook for 2021 is looking especially grim, with tourism officials aiming for just 5 million international arrivals. Even this number is looking overly optimistic now.

Many of the staff impacted by the lack of liquidity in the tourism sector have been able to benefit from some government support, however, those unregistered in the social security system have not been so fortunate. Who are these people? You guessed it, Thailand’s sex workers and the migrant workers, mostly from neighbouring Myanmar.

Whilst many of the sex workers left the hotspots of Bangkok, Pattaya and Phuket to move back to their home towns in the provinces, many stayed put. The entrepreneurial bar owners were able to find alternative work for some of their staff, with the rise of the ‘live stream‘ – punters are able to interact with bar girls over a webcam live stream, helping them to earn some money. But nowhere near the amounts they’d became accustomed to.

The sharp decline of income may not appear to have any impact on the outside, but deep down the mental health of many of these sex workers and migrant workers has been severely impacted. Several mobile applications have been developed recently, including the Mental Health Check Up app by The Department of Mental Health, however, adoption remains low.

SOURCE: Channel News Asia

For anyone suffering mental health issues in Thailand, please call The Samaritans of Thailand on (02) 713-6791 or the Department of Mental Health Hotline on 1323 (Thai).


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  1. Avatar


    Saturday, March 20, 2021 at 5:00 pm

    You did not mention that 60% of Thailand’s workforce consists of informal workers who did not get any assistance at all. The people who did get something got a pityful small amount for 3 months.

  2. Avatar

    toby andrews

    Saturday, March 20, 2021 at 5:29 pm

    I do not think is is totally due to the pandemic, I think it is due to the Thai government handling of the pandemic.
    They have acted like a mad elephant in a market, wrecking all normal ways of life for Thai citizens, with bans one after another, ridiculous, unreasonable, stupid bans, such as no walking on the beach but walking on a path next to the beach allowed.
    The effect of this stupidity is that Thais cannot work, cannot make money, but that does not bother the authorities, they still make plenty.
    Here in Cambodia the suicide rate is about 6 percent against Thailand’s 15 percent.
    This is because although there have been Covid restrictions, they have been light and reasonable.
    Last year there were about 5000 suicides in Thailand. How many deaths from Covid?
    I am not suggesting there should have not been some restrictions, but the idiotic restrictions imposed by this fake democratic government, I claim, contributed a lot to these suicides.

  3. Avatar


    Saturday, March 20, 2021 at 7:32 pm

    yes toby. but 100 people have died from covid. completely unacceptable.

  4. Avatar


    Saturday, March 20, 2021 at 8:16 pm

    @toby andrews
    I think that’s true of almost every government. They’re doing far more damage than the virus itself. 1 or 2 people in 1000 will die of covid. This is like tossing a a brick in a swimming pool and trying to measure how much the water rises. Unfortunately, our *outstanding* news media (*rolls eyes*) is hellbent on convincing everyone that this thing is a tsunami of death.
    Politicians feel pressured to overreact to placate the public’s fear, or in some cases exploit the public’s fear to defeat incumbents.

    What we have now is a crisis of media-driven mass hysteria and subsequent dissolution of our way of life. I suppose we should’ve seen this coming as the warning signs were there for decades. Exponential growth in mass media has coincided with a rapid decline in objectivity and accountability. Unfortunately, most of us continued to believe that the media, despite its glaring shortcomings, still had a highly respected role to play as part of the “fourth estate”, necessary for the proper functioning of democracy. Boy, were we wrong!

    They’ve completely lost sight of reality. 2 million children die of diarrhea every year: that’s last year, this year, and next year.

  5. Avatar


    Saturday, March 20, 2021 at 10:14 pm

    at last some news talking numbers over the suicides due to Covid restrictions and its far from over… a couple of friends tried 2 and 3 times having lost everything then failed to make the final trials, they will try again out of hospitals, sure ! then for sure a lot more should be recorded. At this time about only 3 times JUST AS THE REGULAR NUMBERS more than the covid casualties mainly finalizing lives of elderlies with health problems. The people suiciding now and before are due to the non sense of positive thinking about any possible fine and correct future life, see the stats results before covid !!! Why does such ratio is leading the other Asian nations ? surely not only for mostly loving problems or failing projects but most probably partly due government’s dictatorial maneers against people true freedom and restricted education costly system

  6. Avatar


    Saturday, March 20, 2021 at 10:48 pm

    Not surprised about mental illness,when I see people driving motorcycle with mask and without helmet.

  7. Avatar

    Peter Nielsen

    Saturday, March 20, 2021 at 11:25 pm

    “What we have now is a crisis of media-driven mass hysteria and subsequent dissolution of our way of life.”

    100% agree. Unbelievably, so much power they have!

  8. Avatar

    Clive Goodwin

    Sunday, March 21, 2021 at 3:52 am

    In the U.K. The ONS records 605,000 deaths for year ending 2020. Taking into account differences in population, this puts 2020 at 35th place out of the last 50 years, that is, 34 out of the last 50 years have had worse death rates. Proportional response? The office of national statistics figures are the only reliable way of assessing the manipulation of data that has gone on to justify government response.

  9. Avatar

    Roger Bruce

    Sunday, March 21, 2021 at 9:55 am

    In my trips to Thailand over the years I have to say that the virus has nothing to do with this
    Thais have had mental problems for years …mainly from too much drinking and drugs
    Good Luck Thailand

  10. Avatar


    Monday, March 22, 2021 at 1:22 am

    Another of my comment published but then taken out. Thaiger is a business not journalism. End!!!

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Cita Catellya is a journalist and content writer who covers a range of topics from medical and property to leisure and tourism. Her career began as a copywriter, where she worked with several brands in Indonesia to help them increase their online presence.

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