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Symptoms of Trauma in 2.7 Percent of Population, Study Finds

Cambodian military officials and locals arrive to attend the second day of trial of the U.N.-backed war crimes tribunal in Phnom Penh, file photo.
PHNOM PENH - A new survey shows Cambodia has an extremely high rate of traumatized citizens, especially compared to other countries in the world.

According to a wide study by the psychology department of the Royal University of Phnom Penh, 2.7 percent of the Cambodian population suffers from post-trauma or traumatic symptoms.

“That’s seven times higher than the world average,” said Khann Sareth, a psychologist at the university who led the survey. “The trauma affects their family’s economy, the national economy and the development of the country.”

Khann Sareth and his team surveyed 2,690 people in nine provinces and Phnom Penh. The survey found not only a high rate of traumatized people, but a high rate of suicidal tendencies. That rate was three times higher than the World Health Organization world averages.

“It’s still a serious psychological problem,” Khann Sareth said.

Other issues include substance abuse, depression and aggression, he said.

And though Cambodia has a high rate of mental health issues like these, it has a very low number of facilities or resources for them. The World Health Organization classifies the government’s mental health policy as “absent.”

Cambodia has no mental hospitals, and very few trained psychologists or social workers. Only nine health care centers across the country are even equipped to deal with mental problems.