World Children's Day 2021 put focus on young people's mental wellbeing

November 18, 2021 - 07:49
In a time when the pandemic puts children and young people at risk, the 2021 World Children's Day puts the focus on the mental health and wellbeing of children and adolescents.
The World Children's Day 2021 concentrates on the mental health and wellbeing of children and adolescents with the messages "It's OK not to be OK" and "Share your truth". — Photo courtesy of UNICEF

HÀ NỘI — A conference took place in Hà Nội on Wednesday to celebrate World Children’s Day, with children' representatives, parents, and experts discussing mental health support for young people in light of the COVID-10 pandemic.

In a time when the pandemic puts children and young people at risk, the 2021 World Children's Day puts the focus on the mental health and wellbeing of children and adolescents.

The conference highlights the role of parents in understanding their children and helping them take care of their mental health and of the Government and social organisations in helping children identify and treat mental health problems.

The children 'representatives' are students aged between 12 and 17, with one hearing-impaired.

“Mental health is a controversial topic and that has not received adequate support in Việt Nam”, Quỳnh Giang, 17, said recalling her own struggles.

“I hope that the education system will better equip teachers knowledge and skills on addressing mental health issues in students, and what I shared today can encourage other people and make them realise the importance of speaking out.”

Việt Vượng, 12, a hearing-impaired student also expressed his feelings about online learning during the pandemic.

While remote learning can already be challenging for normal students, it is even harder for children using sign language.

“We hearing-impaired students could not learn if video calling is not available. However due to the bad Internet connection, I could not make out my teacher’s hand gestures”, said Vượng.

In the panel discussion among parents, writer Trang Hạ and TV host Thảo Vân, emphasised the need to truly listen to children.

Duy Khoa, singer and father of two, said: "What I want to tell the parents is the 'Power of one', the one minute you spent to hug your child, the one hour of quality time hanging out with your children, the one time you say to your children that you love them and you care about them. It is one of the simple strategies to build a connection with your children."

A music video named Bữa tối gia đình (Family Dinner) and a TikTok campaign destinated at children for their mental wellbeing was also introduced at the event.

UNICEF Representative to Việt Nam Rana Flowers told the conference: “In the last two years, the impact of the pandemic can be measured across every right the Convention on the Rights of the Child. We experience regression, we see children being left behind.”

“We have a lot of work to do together to address those child rights challenges. It's a crucial moment to stop and reach out with kindness, with real support, and make a space for our children. It's a crucial moment with the government to really look at the national strategic plan for the mental health of children and adolescents.”

Nguyễn Thị Hà, Deputy Minister of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, said: “The Prime Minister has approved the National Action Programme for Children for the 2021-2030 period, as well as other programmes and projects aiming to prevent abuse, violence, injury and provide comprehensive care to children, especially those in disadvantaged circumstances, which will be deployed on a national scale.”

She also highlighted the five key areas for interdisciplinary cooperation, which are: providing skills for parents; cooperation between the health, education and social sector; completing the supporting policies and frameworks; developing social work as employment; and building master projects to address the impacts of COVID-19 on children.  

World Children's Day takes place every year on November 20 on the anniversary of the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The event highlights critical issues affecting children's lives and the engagement of children and young people as advocates for their own rights. — VNS