MENTAL health infrastructure is "critically deficient" in Cambodia where "alarming" rates of trauma-related mental disorders have been documented, a report released in Phnom Penh has found.
The responsibility of caring for those with mental health problems, particularly in severe cases, quickly overwhelms families, experts from the Leitner Centre for International Law and Justice at Fordham Law School in New York reported in the study.
That frustration extends to family members chaining up or locking in cages from 10 per cent to 40 per cent of those with severe mental disabilities, the study said, citing estimates by mental health professionals.
One mother said she "locked her daughter in a bamboo cage for several years" before professionals provided treatment for her psychosis.
The report also noted that patient numbers also overwhelmed mental health workers. In 2010, Cambodia had around 35 trained psychiatrists and 45 psychiatric nurses catering to a population of close to 15 million, it said.
"Despite notable progress, Cambodia's mental health infrastructure remains critically deficient given the scope of mental health needs it is called upon to address," the study said.
It recommended introduction of more community-based care and an increase in financial resources allotted to the mental health sector.
A non-governmental organisation, the Transcultural Psychosocial Organisation Cambodia, launched a scheme on Friday to train volunteers to provide support and information to those who might be suffering mental health problems.
Studies have found high rates of post-traumatic stress disorder among Cambodians who survived decades of unrest and the 1975-79 Khmer Rouge regime.
Up to two million people died from execution, disease, starvation and overwork during the Communist regime's rule.