Remote areas lack mental health services: study

February 07, 2018 - 09:00

Mental health and psychosocial problems are widespread and increasing in Việt Nam, particularly among children and young people.

Mental health services have to be improved for the healthy development of children. — VNA/VNS Photo Thu Hoài
Viet Nam News

HÀ NỘI — Mental health and psychosocial problems are widespread and increasing in Việt Nam, particularly among children and young people.

Despite some progress, mental health services in Viet Nam remain largely inadequate, according to a new study released yesterday by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA) and the Overseas Development Institute (ODI).

The lack of mental health services is particularly acute in remote province. There, services are insufficient to prevent suicide and treat mental health disorders, which are often at the heart of suicidal ideation and attempts, according to the study of mental health and psychosocial wellbeing among children and young people in selected provinces and cities in Việt Nam.

Friday Nwaigwe, chief of the Child Survival and Development Programme of UNICEF Việt Nam, said, “Children with mental disorders face major challenges with stigma, isolation and discrimination, as well as lack of access to health care and education facilities, in violation of their fundamental human rights.”

While some mental health and psychosocial services are provided through social welfare and social protection centres, mental health hospitals and psychosocial units in schools, their quality and coverage is limited, and often focused on severe mental health disorders.

In her opening remarks at the workshop, Deputy Minister of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs Đào Hồng Lan emphasised that the findings of the study provide evidence to inform line sectors and provinces in development and implementation of comprehensive service systems to respond to the needs of mental health and psychosocial support for children and young people in Việt Nam.

The report recommends the Vietnamese government strengthen and increase the quantity and quality of human resources for mental health in the public sector, as well as the number and type of services, particularly those focusing on less severe mental health problems.

The study also emphasises the importance of raising awareness of the need to address children and young people’s psychosocial wellbeing.

The study highlights the importance of a supportive family environment, good social and peer networks, supportive teachers and role models as protective factors.

Experts at the workshop believed that findings from this study would inform recommendations on how to address children and young people’s mental health. They also argued that the recommendations should be considered by existing national level programmes, including the National Programme on Social Support and Rehabilitation for People with Mental Illness and the National Targeted Programme on Health, as well as future programming and legal frameworks in the planning stages, including the National Strategy on Mental Health, 2016-2025, with a view to 2030.

According to WHO, mental disorders are defined as a combination of abnormal thoughts, perceptions, emotions, behaviour and relationships with others, whereas biologically based disorders can include depression, bipolar affective disorder, schizophrenia and other psychoses, dementia, intellectual disabilities and developmental disorders including autism. — VNS