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Lack of mental health support for students a major concern

Update: June, 11/2014 - 08:02
Students in class at the Le Ngoc Han Primary School in Ha Noi. Experts are worried that schools are not paying enough attention to providing mental health support for students. — VNA/VNS Photo Quy Trung

DONG NAI (VNS) — Experts and psychologists are worried that schools are not paying enough attention on mental health support for students, deterring their healthy long-term development and education.

They had recently gathered at a conference held earlier this week in Dong Nai Province to assess school pressure on students' mental health.

According to a survey conducted by three researchers from the HCM City-based University of Social Sciences and Humanities, 90 per cent out of 270 surveyed high school students in HCM City reported that they felt "pressure" because of studying time that takes up to 8–10 hours per day, while 49 per cent felt "extreme pressure."

Most of the students reported problems such as feeling sleepy, losing appetite, skipping meals and losing confidence. The report warned that many students were on the verge of collapse both mentally and physically due to pressure from family and overloaded school work.

Other reports presented at the conference also revealed similar scenarios, with some recalling stories of students giving up their lives due to pressure from school, society and family.

Associate Professor Nguyen Van Tho from the HCM City University of Social Science and Humanities said that most schools did not pay much attention to mental health support for students because schools fear that it would take up time that should be spent on studying and completing the required curriculum.

Tho noted that most schools only paid attention in classifying students' behaviors (which affect and are recorded on their report cards) rather than identifying the mental health problems they need help with.

Experts at the conference reported that while psychological support for students is prevalent in many countries, in Viet Nam research on finding a suitable mental health support for schools started in 1995, which aimed at connecting schools to a network of mental health hospitals and clinics, but so far many projects are only on paper.

Tran Van Cong, from University of Education under the Ha Noi- based Viet Nam National University, stated that in order to have a standardised model of mental support for students, coordinated efforts must be taken to increase awareness of students, schools and families, in addition to providing financial and staff support to implement the work. — VNS

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