After spotting mental problem, 30% puts off treatment for over 1 year

Kwak Sung-sun  Published 2020.01.14  15:42  Updated 2020.01.14 15:42


About half of the Koreans evaluate their mental health status as good, but 20 percent of them are in the high-risk group that has experienced five or more mental health problems, a recent survey showed.

Less than 50 percent of people received treatment within six months after recognizing their mental illness, and more than 30 percent said they did not get any treatment for more than a year after finding their mental illness.

The National Mental Health Center recently released the 2019 National Mental Health Knowledge and Attitude Survey Report.

The poll, commissioned by the National Mental Health Center on Hyundai Research Consulting, asked questions to 1,500 ordinary Koreans aged between 15 and 69 across the nation.

Forty-seven percent of the respondents said that their mental health status was in good shape, whereas 10.7 percent said they were bad, and 1.1 percent said that they were very bad.

Also, 67 percent said they made efforts to enhance mental health. Among efforts, the most common activities were exercise and leisure, with 47 percent saying so.

The survey asked if the respondents experienced 13 major mental health problems. The results showed that they experienced 2.2 mental health problems on average over the past year, and 20.4 percent were in the high-risk group, where the respondents had five or more mental health problems.

By type, severe stress was the highest at 37.6 percent, followed by depression that lasts for several days with 30.3 percent, and mood swings that make life uneasy with 30.2 percent.

However, only 22 percent said they had consulted with someone or visited a hospital when they had a mental health problem.

Among them, 39.7 percent chose family and relatives for consultation, psychiatrists or nurses with 38.3 percent, friends or neighbors with 36.8 percent, and counseling specialists with 27.4 percent.

Only 46.7 percent said they received treatment within six months after detecting a mental health problem, and 30.9 percent said they did not get any medical help for more than a year.

The most common reason for not seeking counseling for mental health was that their symptoms did not seem to be severe, and they thought the problem would fade away if left untreated, with 39.3 percent saying so. About 20 percent said mental illness was something people can overcome by themselves.

To questions about awareness of mental health and mental illness, 64.5 percent replied people with mental illness were more dangerous than those without it, and 22.6 percent answered people with mental illness would find it difficult to contribute to society.

As to how they have come to know about problems, 60.1 percent learned them through TV, followed by 22.8 percent who cited hospitals, and 12.2 percent who pointed to mental health welfare centers.

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