Skip to Main Content

Na Joins South Korea’s Presidential Committee on Mental Health Policy Innovation

July 09, 2024

Peter Jongho Na, MD, MPH, a psychiatrist at the VA Connecticut Healthcare System and assistant professor of psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine, has been appointed to a presidential committee in South Korea that aims to address the country’s challenges with mental health and suicide.

Na is one of nine mental health experts among 23 total members on the Mental Health Policy Innovation Committee, which began work June 26 after President Yoon Suk Yeol of South Korea announced its formation.

This marks the first time in Korean history that a presidential committee has been formed specifically for mental health issues.

For a quarter-century South Korea has struggled with one of the highest suicide rates among Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) counties.

In July 2023, Na and Jim Yong Kim, MD, PhD, the former president of the World Bank and Dartmouth College, met with President Yoon and strongly recommended the government take a leading role in alleviating the nation’s mental health burden.

Kim has been appointed as a Special Consultant to the committee.

President Yoon’s initiatives include plans to mitigate the stigma of mental illness and mental health services, implement regular mental health screenings for youth, increase crisis intervention teams by more than 50 percent by the end of 2024, and expand the number of regional psychiatric emergency service centers threefold by 2028.

“There has long been a call to action for such initiatives at the national level to tackle Korea’s mental health and suicide crises. We are grateful for the opportunity to have contributed to the establishment of this committee and look forward to its achievements,” Na said.

Submitted by Christopher Gardner on July 09, 2024