South Korea Unveils Bold Mental Health Initiative with Biennial Check-Ups and Comprehensive Services



In a significant move to address the persistent issue of high suicide rates, South Korea has launched an ambitious plan aimed at combating mental health challenges. The comprehensive strategy includes mandatory mental health check-ups every two years for individuals aged 20 to 34, with plans to extend these services to all age groups.

The mental health initiative marks the first detailed state policy dedicated to curbing the country’s alarming suicide rates, which have remained the highest among member nations of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) for nearly two decades.

As reported by The Korea Herald, the South Korean government is taking a proactive approach to mental health by implementing regular check-ups, starting with the vulnerable age group of 20 to 34.

The intention is to detect warning signs early on and eventually expand the program to cover individuals of all ages. The government aims to collaborate with mental health welfare centers and hospital psychiatric departments to ensure the effectiveness of these mental health check-ups.

Announcement Of Mental Health Initiative

President Yoon Suk Yeol announced the groundbreaking initiative during a mental health policy meeting. President Yoon expressed the necessity for the country to actively address mental health concerns, emphasizing that it is a national issue requiring collective solutions and investments in infrastructure for mental care.

“Now is the time for the country to take active measures to ensure the mental health of its people. Mental health issues are not something individuals can take care of (by themselves). We must make it an important national agenda and seek solutions,” stated President Yoon.

The holistic plan encompasses various aspects of mental health support, including the provision of psychological counseling services. The government plans to offer counseling to 80,000 people in the coming year, with an ambitious goal of expanding this service to reach one million people by 2027. The objective is to assist individuals experiencing early signs of mental health challenges in their recovery process.

Additionally, the government aims to establish a new mental health crisis hotline, designated as phone number 109. This crisis hotline is part of a broader strategy to enhance accessibility to mental health services, catering to the preferences and needs of diverse age groups.

Online text message therapy will also be introduced to provide alternative communication methods for youth and young adults who may prefer nonverbal interactions.

Minister of Health and Welfare Cho Kyu-hong emphasized the significance of bold investments in public mental health. The goal is to create a society where mental health services are readily available to all citizens, ensuring that individuals facing mental health issues receive appropriate treatment and support.

Furthermore, the government plans to launch a nationwide campaign aimed at reducing stigma associated with mental illness. Collaborating with universities and mental health advocacy groups, the Ministry of Health and Welfare intends to address discrimination and bias by developing media reporting guidelines on mental health.

The campaign seeks to promote a more inclusive and understanding environment for individuals dealing with mental health challenges.

South Korea’s proactive stance on mental health is expected to set a precedent for other nations grappling with similar concerns. The comprehensive nature of the plan, from routine check-ups to extensive counseling services and stigma reduction efforts, demonstrates a commitment to fostering a mentally healthy society.

As the government mobilizes resources and forms a new presidential committee to oversee mental health policies, South Korea is taking a significant step toward prioritizing the well-being of its citizens and addressing a longstanding public health issue.

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