Koreans Becoming More Depressed: 7 out of 10 Experiencing Mental Health Issues

Seven Out Of Ten South Koreans Have Experienced Mental Health Issues In The Past Year

According to the ‘2024 National Mental Health Knowledge and Attitude Survey’ released by the National Center for Mental Health, 73.6% of respondents reported experiencing mental health problems over the past year, a 9.7 percentage point increase from 2022. Specifically, issues like ‘severe stress,’ ‘prolonged depression,’ and ‘internet or smartphone addiction’ have significantly risen. Notably, the percentage of respondents who had contemplated suicide increased from 8.8% to 14.6%.

The perception of mental illness has also worsened. The percentage of people who agreed with the statement, “If I develop a mental illness, some of my friends will turn their backs on me,” increased significantly from 39.4% in 2022 to 50.7% this year. However, there were some improvements in awareness. More respondents agreed with statements like “Anyone can develop a mental illness.”

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health and Welfare of South Korea launched the ‘2024 National Mental Health Investment Support Project’ on July 1. This project provides professional psychological counseling services for those experiencing depression and anxiety. It aims to start with 80,000 people in the second half of this year and expand to 500,000 people, 1% of the total population, by 2027.

The target recipients include those who have been referred for psychological counseling by mental health welfare centers or university counseling centers and those who have received a diagnosis or recommendation for psychological counseling from mental health institutions. Once selected, recipients will be issued a voucher for eight professional counseling sessions within 10 days of application.

According to the Ministry of Health and Welfare, South Korea ranks first in depression (36.8%) and fourth in anxiety symptoms (29.5%) among OECD countries. The number of people experiencing depression surpassed 1 million in 2022, with depression among people in their 20s doubling from 99,796 in 2018 to 194,322. It is hoped that this professional psychological counseling service will bring about meaningful change.

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