Health Authorities Struggle to Aid Mental Health Treatment Dropouts | Be Korea-savvy

Health Authorities Struggle to Aid Mental Health Treatment Dropouts

(Image credit: Kobiz Media)

(Image credit: Kobiz Media)

SEOUL, Aug. 10 (Korea Bizwire)Concerns exist that individuals with mental disorders who choose to discontinue their treatment could experience worsened symptoms due to lack of attention and isolation from medical institutions, government, and local communities, resulting in a lack of social support.

The individuals under the purview of the health authority’s case management are mainly those necessitating medical interventions akin to hospitalization or those facing significant limitations in their daily lives.

However, a more significant issue arises in cases where individuals voluntarily halt their outpatient treatment and isolate themselves from society until their symptoms escalate to a serious level.

In 2020, the government introduced the Outpatient Treatment Support Program aimed at assisting individuals who have terminated their treatment and have been identified within the local community.

If individuals with mental disorders who underwent hospitalization or outpatient treatment due to self-harm or harm to others are identified, this program offers support for outpatient treatment for a duration of up to one year based on the assessment of the review committee.

Despite this program being introduced three years ago, the number of beneficiaries has remained relatively low — 20 in 2020, 32 in 2021, and 64 cases in 2022.

“When individuals with mental disorders decline treatment, they can be hospitalized if they are deemed dangerous following evaluations by mental health institutions,” explained a health ministry official.

“However, if they choose not to comply, there is no legal basis to enforce their adherence.”

Consequently, there is an increasing demand for the creation of facilities that make it more convenient for such individuals, who are often overlooked, to voluntarily seek assistance and rejoin society, thereby providing them with employment opportunities.

Particularly noteworthy is the high prevalence of mental disorders among those in their teens and 20s, an age group engaged in education or job-seeking endeavors.

Thus, endeavors are necessary to promote their participation in social activities beyond hospital settings and foster the growth of their interpersonal relationships.

J. S. Shin (

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