NC to review disturbing trends of suicide and mental health issues

Respective chairpersons of the NC’s committees provide a brief overview of the review works at the press conference

National Council’s Social and Cultural Affairs Committee will submit its findings and recommendations to the government 

LHAKPA TSHERING

Thimphu

To scale and spread promising prevention approaches to policy intervention, the National Council (NC) will deliberate the review report on suicide and mental health issues, among others, in the ongoing parliament session.

The Social and Cultural Affairs Committee, which was entrusted with reviewing the report, will submit a review report for deliberation following which the final report will be submitted to the government including their findings and recommendations.

Recognizing the burden of suicide and mental health issues in the country, the committee’s chairperson, Lhaki Dolma, said that they have prepared timely and feasible recommendations for future directions in prevention so that the government can implement measures immediately.

“Her Majesty the Gyaltsuen, in Her recent address, emphasized the efforts and all means to provide timely intervention on mental health issues that should receive a national priority,” she said. “We also came to know that the government is prioritizing and committed to human resource, infrastructure, and resource allocation.”

To ensure good mental wellbeing for all, Lhaki Dolma said, there is a need to review the policy and improve resource allocation. For instance, she said, the national health policy involves only drinking alcohol as a cause of mental health trends but it lacks other pertinent factors such as economic and social conditions.

“Since suicide and mental health are “interrelated to one another, we will deliberate why this issue has been lagging,” she continued, adding it is a “very important report” and a review for presenting in the House is timely.

Despite many ongoing efforts from different stakeholders sharing a common goal to support and promote mental health and wellbeing, there is a dearth of explicit and coordinated responses through a multi-sectoral approach in meeting the growing mental health needs.

Noting policy opportunities for improving multi-sectoral prevention efforts, she emphasized reinforcing and strengthening coordination among stakeholders. “Considering low mental health literacy associated in the villages, there is a need for more advocacy and interventions to expand services,” she added.

Meanwhile, the committee has conducted a thorough consultation with some 30 relevant stakeholders in the last one year including government agencies, dzongkhags, local government leaders, schools and universities, civil society organizations and non-governmental organizations, international organizations, monk bodies, and heads of the religious institutions.

While mental health rates have increased more sharply since 2017, deaths from suicide are at an all-time high and rising with the record of 100 reported cases in 2020 in the past five years.

In addition, suicides affected all ages groups, although certain populations are disproportionately affected – for people ages 21 to 40, and the second for 41 to 60-year-olds.