Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Mental health services key for drug users: study

Mental health services key for drug users: study

Mental health patients sit in a waiting room before their appointment to see a doctor at a hospital in Phnom Penh in 2007. AFP
Mental health patients sit in a waiting room before their appointment to see a doctor at a hospital in Phnom Penh in 2007. AFP

Mental health services key for drug users: study

A new report has called for greater mental health provisions to be made for Cambodia’s drug users, though it conceded that the human and financial resources to implement its proposals will likely be lacking.

Published last month in the International Journal of Drug Policy, the report is the product of interviews with 169 drug users in Phnom Penh. Researchers found that 15.3 per cent had attempted suicide and 42 per cent suffered what the report termed high levels of psychological distress.

Researchers concluded that, in an ideal world, drug users would be screened for mental health issues and referred to specialists for treatment.

However, they went on to acknowledge that, as with other low- and middle-income countries, Cambodia’s mental health services are already stretched beyond capacity. A 2014 survey by the World Health Organization and the Ministry of Health found Cambodia had only 41 registered psychiatrists.

The compromise the researchers propose is for health providers working in existing HIV and harm-reduction programs to be trained in mental health screening and prevention.

David Harding, who has spent more than a decade working with Cambodian drug users, said yesterday that mental health provisions should be a feature of any program tackling drug-related issues, although he was not aware of any such initiatives in the Kingdom.

Representatives of the Health Ministry and the National Authority for Combating Drugs were not reachable.


  • Newest horror film showcases unique Khmer culture, identity

    At first glance, the trailer to new horror sensation The Ritual: Black Nun looks like a western-produced feature film. As the story reveals itself to the viewers, it becomes clearer that this is a Khmer film, with a strong Cambodian identity and close links to

  • Ministry orders all schools, public and private, to close for SEA Games

    From April 20 to May 18, all public and private educational institutions will be closed to maintain order and support Cambodia's hosting of the 32nd SEA Games and 12th ASEAN Para Games, said a directive from the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport. Cambodia will host the

  • Almost 9K tourists see equinox sunrise at Angkor Wat

    Nearly 9,000 visitors – including 2,226 international tourists – gathered at Angkor Wat on March 21 to view the spring equinox sunrise, according to a senior official of the Siem Reap provinical tourism department. Ngov Seng Kak, director of the department, said a total of 8,726 people visited Angkor Wat to

  • Angkor Beer strengthens national pride with golden new look and fresher taste

    Angkor Beer – the "Gold of Angkor" – has a new look, one that is more stylish and carries a premium appeal, as well as a fresher taste and smoother flavour, making it the perfect choice for any gathering. Angkor Beer recently launched its new design, one

  • Water supply authority assures public shortages over early ‘24

    The Phnom Penh Water Supply Authority (PPWSA) asked for understanding from Phnom Penh residents in some communes where water pressure is weak. They assured residents that all supply issues will be resolved by early 2024, but have suggested that residents use water sparingly in the meantime.

  • Khmer ballet documentary debuts April 1

    A new documentary, The Perfect Motion, or Tep Hattha in Khmer, will premiere to the public on April 1. The documentary film follows two intertwined storylines: the creation of a show called Metamorphosis by the late Princess Norodom Buppha Devi (her very last production) and the