7 in 10 Koreans report experiencing mental health issues, a rising trend

Posted on : 2024-07-05 16:50 KST Modified on : 2024-07-05 16:50 KST
At the same time, survey findings suggest Koreans fear being shunned by friends and others if diagnosed with a mental disorder
(Getty Images Bank)
(Getty Images Bank)

Seven out of 10 South Koreans have experienced mental health issues, such as overwhelming stress or continued feelings of depression, a new survey has found. While more citizens are complaining of mental health struggles compared to the 2022 survey, attitudes toward mental health, in general, have worsened, with over half of the participants believing that they would be shunned by their friends if they were diagnosed with a mental disorder.
 
The National Center for Mental Health released the results of a survey of 3,000 people from the ages of 15 to 69 that enquired about the public’s general knowledge and attitude toward mental health in 2024 on Thursday.
 
The results showed that 73.6% of respondents stated that they faced mental health problems during the past year, which is 9.7 points higher than the results of the 2022 survey (63.9%). In other words, Koreans’ mental health has gotten worse over the past two years.
 
In particular, the percentage of those who answered that they experienced overwhelming stress jumped 10 points from 36.0% in 2022 to 46.3% in 2024. The percentage of those who suffered from prolonged depression went from 30.0% to 40.2% and those who experienced smartphone and internet addiction leaped from 6.4% to 18.4%. Respondents who said that they contemplated suicide also increased from the last survey from 8.8% to 14.6%.
 
The general attitude toward mental health has also deteriorated. The percentage of those who thought that their friends would turn their backs on them if they were diagnosed with mental health problems increased drastically from 39.4% in 2022 to 50.7% and more people believed that people with mental health problems were more dangerous than neurotypical people, with the percentage going from 64.0% to 64.6%.
 
More respondents believed that receiving treatment from a psychiatrist would put them at a disadvantage professionally, such as when they enter the job market, with the numbers going from 61.5% in 2022 to 69.4%.
 
However, more people agreed with the statements, “Anyone can suffer from mental disorders,” and “Mental disorders are caused by brain dysfunctions,” showing that in some respects, attitudes toward mental health issues have made some progress.
 
Most people stated that they turned to family and relatives when they experienced mental health problems, with the percentage being 49.4%. That was followed by psychiatrists (44.2%), friends or neighbors (41.0%), and counselors or therapists (34.3%).
 
The government is providing counseling services to prevent the mental health of the public from deteriorating further. The Ministry of Health and Welfare has launched the “2024 Nationwide Mental Health Care Investment Support Project,” which will provide professional counseling services to people who are suffering from depression, anxiety and other difficulties.
 
The aim is to start by supporting 80,000 people in the second half of 2024 and expand to 500,000 by 2027. Those who have been given referrals stating that they need counseling from mental health welfare centers, university counseling centers, and other facilities and those who have received diagnoses or referrals from mental health institutions are eligible.
 
Those deemed eligible will be issued vouchers for eight sessions of professional counseling services within 10 days of application.

By Son Ji-min, staff reporter

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