Case Studies


Keeping fit mentally

Mental health consultation for Chulalongkorn University personnel

Many large organizations that care for their employees’ well-being like to hold exercise classes or provide an onsite gym for staff to stay physically fit. Mental health is often overlooked.

“Mental soundness is often ignored, but (the problems) are hidden there,” points out Prof Dr Narin Hiransuthikul, vice-president for Strategic Monitoring and Assessment, Planning, Budgeting and Wellbeing at Chulalongkorn University.

“If an organization has no monitoring system, it won’t spot a problem.

“Studies have shown that 20% to 30% of personnel in every workplace suffer from depression which is one example of a mental disorder,” adds Dr Narin. “The illness will affect their physical wellbeing and eventually their ability to function at work.”

To keep its staff healthy both physically and mentally, Chulalongkorn University has started providing psychological counselling services to its personnel through the Mental Health Center of the Faculty of Psychology. The faculty’s professional psychologists provide either individual advice or consultation via phone.

“Wellness is crucial to every part of every organization and the term covers the overall aspects,” says Dr Narin. “A person who lives happily in society must manifest at least four aspects of wellness: physical, mental, social and environmental wellness. That is why we have to ensure CU personnel have these attributes.”

Mental health counselling is available for university staff as well as their immediate family members. In the 2020 fiscal year, a total of 391 people have sought information and consultation services via the phone number 062-454-8095 or Line ID: @chulacare.

A total of 65 university staff members have made appointments with the center to receive psychological counselling with 216 sessions held.

In addition to mental soundness, physical wellness for CU staff is also emphasized. Medical checkups for staff are held annually and vaccinations are provided as preventive measures, while exercise is routinely promoted.

As CU currently chairs the Asean University Network-Health Promotion Network (AUN-HPN) of the Central Region, Dr Narin has been urging all member campuses to focus on physical and mental wellness as well as health literacy.

“Through discussions with members, we’ve realized that we share similar problems and we should give them serious attention,” says the vice-president. “Members have agreed to set up a policy to earnestly deal with the mental wellbeing of our personnel. The matter has been neglected long enough.”

According to Dr Narin, members of AUN-HPN will first address how serious the mental health problems on their campuses are. Then they will work out how to encourage their staff to cultivate a healthier mental outlook and how to treat staff suffering from mental distress. The faculty of psychology of each university will be assigned to take charge of these programs.

The Faculty of Psychology of Chulalongkorn University has taken the responsibility to take care of lecturers and staff of the CU community for some time now. Mental health problems were identified based on surveys carried out via a hotline operation.

“We’ve learned of various health problems from staff who called the hotline,” says Dr Narin. “The matter will be followed up and proper treatment will be provided later on. It’s the university’s policy, which will be implemented now and in the future, to ensure people in our community stay fit mentally.”

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