Junta leader-cum-Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha casts his vote at a polling station March 24 in Bangkok. Photo: Gemunu Amarasinghe / Associated Press
Junta leader-cum-Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha casts his vote at a polling station March 24 in Bangkok. Photo: Gemunu Amarasinghe / Associated Press

BANGKOK — The state mental health hotline experienced nearly a 70 percent spike in calls related to politics in the lead up to the March election, a top official said Friday.

Kiattibhoom Vongrachit, Director-General of the Mental Health Department, said that in March the line saw a 68-percent increase from February in calls about politics-related distress. He said most callers needed advice about conflict with family, friends or colleagues over differences in political opinion.

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According to Kiattibhoom, overall consultation calls increased by 33 percent in March compared to February, with most calling about mental health disorders, followed by stress and domestic issues. There were more than 13,000 calls over the two months combined.

“In a democratic society, it’s normal for people to think differently, but that shouldn’t cause division,” Kiattibhoom said. “We should listen to others’ opinions with respect … so that the stress and anxiety isn’t bottled up too much.”

The department has suggested that the public not consume political news for more than an hour a day to reduce stress levels.

In 2018, a survey by the department found that more than 20 percent of Thai people suffer from mental health issues. However, it said many people were not aware of those problems, especially when it came to anxiety.

Those needing support are encouraged to call the hotline at 1323, which can be accessed at all hours, although call attempts may not always go through successfully.

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