Breaking the Stigma: Addressing Mental Health Challenges Faced by Thai Men

Thai men marching

A recent study sheds light on the need for mental health professionals to address these factors and provide tailored support for men in Thailand.

Depression is a serious mental health condition that affects many people worldwide, including men in Thailand. However, studies have shown that Thai men often do not seek care or treatment for depressive symptoms.  This is mainly due to the perception that these symptoms are unmasculine.  Researchers conducted a qualitative study on 21 male patients with major depressive disorder. All the patients were living with the condition for at least one year. The researchers were from The Centre for Research and Training on Gender and Women’s Health at Khon Kaen University.

The study found that Thai men suffer from ruminative thoughts about failing to carry on traditionally masculine roles. They experience a sense of loss of control, lack of understanding, personal weakness, and social isolation. The way participants expressed changes due to depression was in terms of rumination and social isolation. The findings suggest that masculinity is socially constructed, and the experiences of men living with depression need more study in diverse contexts such as age, social, economic status, and sexuality.

According to a study published in the Journal of Mental Health of Thailand in 2015, the prevalence of depression among Thai men was found to be 8.5%. However, the same study also found that the rate of asking for help for depression among men in Thailand was much lower than the rate for women.

To support Thai men with depression, mental health professionals can take steps such as:

  • Using cognitive behaviour therapy to analyze masculine core beliefs
  • Developing appropriate programs for early treatment intervention
  • Educating families about the challenges of losing masculinity during depressive episodes

Healthcare providers should also be aware that:

  • Men may express depressive symptoms differently than women
  • Develop screening tools that take these differences into account

Dr Ladda Thiamwong is a psychiatrist and researcher in Bangkok. She highlights the importance of healthcare providers affirming to men that seeking help for depression is a positive step. She says, “Healthcare providers need to be supportive, non-judgmental and affirming when men seek help. This may help to overcome the perceived stigma around seeking help, and encourage men to open up about their problems.” By addressing the unique challenges faced by Thai men with depression, healthcare providers can improve their overall mental health and well-being.

In addition, healthcare providers should be aware that men may express depressive symptoms differently. Therefore, they should develop screening tools that take these differences into account. By addressing the unique challenges faced by Thai men with depression, healthcare providers can improve their overall mental health and well-being.

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