The number of patients seeking psychological counselling from the state’s public health centre has been steadily increasing since its opening in 2013.
Dhamana Veshi officials told the press Wednesday that 449 counselling sessions were sought last year, up dramatically from 43 in 2016 and 21 in 2015.
The most common problems patients reported were anxiety, anger management and family disputes.
“The fact that the number of people seeking help is on the rise means awareness is increasing. It shows that the way society view depression is changing,” said Health Minister Mohamed Nazim.
The Maldives has an acute shortage of qualified mental health professionals despite growing mental health problems among the population. Appointments to consult psychiatrists at the government-run Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital and the private ADK hospital often take days to secure.
In May 2016, clinics struggled to keep their doors open after the health ministry declared that a Masters degree and 500 hours of clinical experience would be required to register as behavioural analyst psychologists.