Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Mental disabilities on agenda

Mental disabilities on agenda

Mental disabilities on agenda

Often belittled as the “crazy” or “stupid,” the mentally disabled in Cambodia face greater and more unique challenges than those with physical disabilities and are thus in need of more focused support, rights workers said yesterday.

Speaking at the opening of a three-day conference about the mentally disabled, Kong Vichetra, executive director of the disability-rights organisation Ko­-mar Pikar Foundation, said that those with mental disabilities were “discriminated” and “marginalized”, and not properly supported by most organisations working in the disability arena.

“There aren’t many centres or organizations to help people with mental disabilities, that’s why we want NGOs, the government and relevant institutions to help support them.”

Because of the lack of service in the Kingdom, representatives of organisations from Japan, Thailand and Malaysia attending the conference called for the creation of a national support group to deal specifically with  mentally disabled people.

The group would provide services to families of individuals with mental disabilities, raise awareness and lobby for legislation to protect and promote people with disabilities.

Minister of Social Affairs Ith Sam Heng stressed the equal im­portance of education.

“We must educate pregnant women to improve the health of their babies by not drinking alcohol during the pregnancy as it can have serious effects on the babies’ mental health,” he said.

The social affairs minister estimated that roughly two percent of the population had some form of disability. It was difficult to determine the exact breakdown between physical and mental disabilities because the definitions were still unclear, Kong Vichetra added.

Yesterday’s conference comes amid a small flurry of activity surrounding disability rights legislation. In June, Prime Minister Hun Sen signed a sub-decree to create the first disability pension. Under the decree, which lacks an implementation timetable, seriously disabled, elderly disabled and seriously injured people living be­­low the poverty line and without full-time employment would be entitled to 20,000 riel (US$5) per month. 

MOST VIEWED

  • Negotiations on EBA being held

    In an effort to defuse tensions, a senior government official said Cambodia is negotiating with the European Union (EU) on the Everything But Arms (EBA) trade deal, which allows the Kingdom to export goods to the 28-member bloc tariff-free. The EU notified Cambodia on October 5

  • Ministers to tackle sea pollutants

    Preah Sihanouk provincial authorities and members of local communities have collected 77 tonnes of water hyacinth at a Sihanoukville beach, Preah Sihanouk Provincial Hall spokesperson Or Saroeun said. He told The Post yesterday that the aquatic weeds had been floating along some of the province’s

  • Chinese police escort deported scam suspects

    Ninety-one Chinese nationals accused of extorting money from victims in a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) scam were deported from Phnom Penh International Airport on Monday under the escort of 182 Chinese police personnel. General Department of Immigration head of investigations Ouk Hay Seila told reporters

  • EU officials: Ending EBA an 18-month procedure

    EU officials have confirmed that it will take a total of 18 months to complete the procedure if Cambodia’s preferential Everything But Arms (EBA) trade agreement is to be withdrawn. According to EU Agriculture and Rural Development spokesman Daniel Rosario, the formal process has not