Korean Hospitals Rush to Open Addiction clinics

Seoul (The Korea Herald/ANN) – Seeing therapists or doctors to get treatment for addiction or mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of.

According to South Korea’s health ministry, about 680,000 people have been diagnosed with depression or other forms of mental illness as of 2010.

In 2010 there were 23,806 adolescents between the ages of 10 and 19 receiving treatment for depression, up 15 per cent from 2006. Still, in Korea many shun medical help for psychiatric problems they regard as taboo.

The national defence ministry said that one out of every 10 military officials is in need of professional therapy. Moreover, the Health Insurance Review and Assessment Service said the number of people treated for addiction to gambling rose 191.4 per cent between 2005 and 2009.

In order to meet their medical needs, hospitals are rushing to open clinics to help people fight bad habits or addictions.

The frontrunner is Seoul National University Hospital, which opened a clinic for an early screening of mental illnesses. From consultation to MRI and brainwave test, all necessary procedures can be completed within a week so that “risky demographics” can get early treatment for faster improvement.

Eulji Medical Centre in Daejeon opened an addiction clinic to deal with problems including gambling, alcohol, Internet, drugs and smoking. Gambling, smoking and Internet addiction are dealt with every Wednesday. Intensive treatments for alcohol and drug abuse are administered on Thursdays.

Inje Institute of Advanced Studies in Seoul has launched a therapeutic course for gambling with support from the Prime Minister’s Office. The institute will manage 16 gambling therapists who will work across the nation to treat gambling addicts. The organisation will also develop therapy models in association with local communities to find the most cost-effective solution.

Gongju National Hospital has opened “Save Brain Clinic” to tackle Internet addiction. Doctors there consider Internet addiction an incurable disorder without outside intervention.

Psychology and brainwave tests are conducted on each visitor, and those found with serious symptoms are given non-drug therapies.

Korea University Hospital is holding a therapy session every Monday and Wednesday for cancer patients, in which it seeks to give them a sense of security leading to reduced stress, a factor known to worsen their symptoms. The hospital provides similar service to family members of cancer patients as a way to help them ease their stress.

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