Press Release

#UnknownTogether: UN Thailand and Knowing Mind in collaboration with Facebook launch mental health support for Thai communities amid COVID-19 and beyond

29 May 2020

  • The UN Thailand, the Thai mental health organisation Knowing Mind and the social change agency Love Frankie launched an online campaign, Unknown Together, to address growing concerns around mental health and the well-being of the local communities in Thailand as the country slowly emerges from the COVID-19 health crisis.

Today the United Nations (UN) in Thailand, the Thai mental health organisation Knowing Mind and the social change agency Love Frankie launched an online campaign, Unknown Together, to address growing concerns around mental health and the well-being of the local communities in Thailand as the country slowly emerges from the COVID-19 health crisis. Supported by Facebook Thailand, a wide array of mental health experts and practitioners as well as prominent social media influencers are joining forces to normalize mental health conversations and provide practical resources for the Thai public. 

Unknown Together
Caption: Unknown Together
Photo: © UNRCO Thailand

"At first glance, COVID-19 is a health crisis, but as its impacts have become apparent, we realise it has a tremendous effect on our mental health and well-being,” said Gita Sabharwal, the UN Resident Coordinator in Thailand. “This is due to a range of interconnected issues, from physical distancing, where people are kept away from their loved ones, to economic distress, misinformation and rumours that pan out on social media. With such growing psychosocial distress indicated amongst the population in Thailand, the UN is taking this initiative to ensure that the people of the country have ready access to resources, and someone to turn to, for psychosocial support. This initiative builds on the UN policy brief ‘COVID-19 and the Need for Action on Mental Health’ and we look forward to working with our partners to realize this in Thailand.

A recent study by the Department of Mental Health indicated that the stress levels of the Thai general public have risen rapidly due to COVID-19, with a 38% increase from March to April in the number of people who rated themselves as extremely stressed or highly stressed. The department received 600 calls on their hotline in March 2020 alone, compared to 20-40 calls in previous months. 

“We are all living through challenging times with the COVID-19 pandemic impacting our lives in many ways, and for many of us it has been especially difficult. At Facebook, the well-being of the people who use our apps is incredibly important to us and something we work on everyday. This is why we team with local experts and international partners, such as Knowing Mind and the United Nations, to make sure our Thai community has access to resources and inspiration to support strong mental health. Through curation of expert-based content and involving leading Thai influencers, we aim to encourage people to engage in supportive, positive conversations about mental health and support one another through kindness and empathy so that we can all navigate these difficult times together - and come out more resilient,” explained Michael Bäk, Head of Public Policy - Facebook Thailand.

Unknown Together is a 10-week campaign developed by Love Frankie that explores the impact of COVID-19 on mental health, providing tools and resources for holistic self-care, as well as empowering Thai people to help communities around them. The aim of the campaign is to provide a carefully curated series of content, information and resources to promote resiliency, well-being and empathy. The content will be co-designed with a network of experts and partners including the Royal Thai Government’s Department of Mental Health. 

Hosted weekly via Facebook Live, #UnknownTogether’s expert panel discussions will explore how COVID-19 has affected our mental health in our most essential relationships: to work, finances, studies, society and one another. Panel discussions will include practicing psychiatrists and psychologists such as Varoth Chotpitayasunondh, M.D., PhD., psychiatrist and spokesperson of the Department of Mental Health and Dr. Soree Pokaeo, Director of Thai Counseling Psychology Association. 

Joining the experts in creating an engaging discourse around mental health are influencers and opinion leaders with a passion for mental health who will be helping to craft and amplify messages of self-care, empathy, and resilience through their own unique voice and content. Through a video “challenge”, performance artist Pan Pan Nakprasert aka Pangina Heals invites us to re-examine the labels we assign to one another, ultimately encouraging empathy in our closest relationships, particularly between parent and child. For her online session, Dujdao Vadhanapakorn, movement therapist and host of the highly subscribed self-therapy podcast series RU OK? guides audiences through the practice of “empathetic listening”. 

"In this crisis that we all face in Thailand and globally, nobody knows when it will end, and nobody knows how to best cope with it. There is no one correct answer on how we can best live our lives after this, but I believe that everyone has their own answers that are just waiting to be discovered. In the midst of these unknowns, at least we are not alone. Alone, we might not have all the answers. But we can begin to explore the unknown together in Thailand,” says Sompop Jamchan, founder of Knowing Mind.

Unknown Together examines the universally uncertain future, as well as the “unknown” emotions we have not identified or allowed ourselves to explore: the anxiety and stress during and post COVID-19. The campaign is aimed for the Thai general public, particularly the working population who may be in need of a safe space to explore questions regarding mental health - an issue that many people are often uncomfortable acknowledging or addressing. Together, we will support one another in solidarity to navigate these uncharted waters.

For more details on the campaign, visit: https://www.facebook.com/knowingmindgroup

Follow #UnknownTogether on Facebook and Instagram for updates.

 

UN entities involved in this initiative

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United Nations

Goals we are supporting through this initiative