The Vietnam Women’s Union has launched a virtual forum to provide support for adolescents who are struggling with mental health in the wake of the pandemic. Photo courtesy of the Vietnam Women's Union
HÀ NỘI – One of the most urgent priorities in the new normal will be helping teenagers whose mental and physical health has been damaged by the changes and uncertainty of the pandemic, an expert in the field has warned.
Speaking at a virtual conference on the topic on Saturday, Trương Thị Thu Thủy, Head of the Family and Social Affairs Department of the Vietnam Women’s Union, said that recognising the physical and mental health impact of the pandemic on adolescents is vital to ensuring their long-term wellbeing.
“Adolescents have been suffering life changes such as school closures and lack of social contact. They have had to learn how to adapt to new learning skills and a new lifestyle, attending online classes and missing out on extracurricular activities and being exposed to cyberbullying. This may be especially difficult for them and easily make them feel anxiety and depression,” she said.
UNICEF in Việt Nam recently conducted a study on the mental health and wellbeing of students in schools. Results showed that after 18 months of lockdowns and pandemic-related restrictions, many children are feeling afraid, lonely, anxious, and very concerned about their future.
The pressure of keeping themselves in school and catching up on schoolwork after the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a deterioration in the mental health of many young people.
In Việt Nam, an earlier epidemiological survey conducted in 10 cities and provinces found that around 12 per cent of young people are suffering from poor mental health, around three million children.
The most common types of mental health problems among children include anxiety, depression, loneliness and externalising problems.
“Adolescents have become more vulnerable during the pandemic, so they need reliable people to speak to about their problems, get information, advice or support to solve their problems properly,” Thủy said.
A virtual forum, launched on the same day as the conference, will be a place for roughly 2,000 students and teachers from five secondary schools in Hà Nội, including Marie Curie, Nguyễn Trường Tộ, Nguyễn Thị Minh Khai, Lê Quý Đôn and Ban Mai, to share their problems and get support. Those who seek help will receive assistance from psychologists.
Thủy said the forum will provide knowledge on early life stress, helping adolescents become equipped with the skills to overcome anxiety and depression. Parents will also be welcomed to join in, to better understand how their children feel and give them tools to help their children, she said.
The virtual conference was held by the Việt Nam Women’s Union and Abbott Laboratories.
This is just one of the many activities the Vietnam Women’s Union has launched to help people affected by COVID-19. Earlier this month, 430,000 sets of gifts worth VNĐ130 billion (US$5.7 million) were given to women and children who have been impacted by the pandemic.
The union provided 500 books for children in quarantine areas and 700 scholarships worth VNĐ730 million ($32,056) for children orphaned by COVID-19. — VNS