Students’ mental health should be a focus

April 28, 2018 - 09:00

Timely advice could help ease negative feelings and deal with problems related to school, experts said.

About 80 per cent of students have problems that needed to be shared and want a private space in the school to seek help and talk about their problems.— Photo

HÀ NỘI — Timely advice could help ease negative feelings and deal with problems related to school, experts said.

Nguyễn Quý Thanh, Rector of the University of Education (UE) under the Vietnam National University said psychological consultation was important.

According to the Ministry of Education and Training, surveys conducted in the capital city of Hà Nội and the northern province of Hải Dương showed that about 80 per cent of students have problems that needed to be shared and want a private space in the school to seek help and talk about their problems.

Studies conducted in another seven northern provinces also found that 20 per cent of students suffered psychological problems that required intervention. In order to achieve a comprehensive education, it was necessary to take care of mental health to help students overcome their problems and enhance their learning, Thanh said at a workshop on training school psychological counsellors held by the UE this week.

However, he acknowledged school counselling was facing a lot of challenges particularly in human resources.

“Most of schools don’t have qualified school counsellors who have been trained in educational counselling,” Thanh told the Voice of Vietnam.

"Teams of psychological counsellors in schools are teachers of Law, Literature, Psychology or History and Geography. Although they have undergone training, their expertise is still limited due to limited resources and capacity of consultant experts," he said.

Trần Thành Nam, Head of Educational Sciences Faculty of the UE agreed, saying compared with developed countries, psychological consultation in schools here was disregarded.

Regarding to the school violence which has concerned the public recently, Nam said the situation could be minimised if each school had a psychological counseling team who could timely detect, support and provide solutions and referred them to experts in case of needing deeper intervention.

According to Bùi Văn Linh, deputy head of the Department of Political Affairs and Student Management under the MoET, a circular on psychological consultation, which took effect in February, stated that every school must establish a psychological consultation group to assist students in major issues relating to gender, reproductive health, anti-abuse, career orientation or problems arising in social relationship.

The group consists of between three and seven people led by a principal or a vice principal. All group members must have a certificate to show they have undergone training on psychological counselling.

It is expected there will be about 70,000 psychology counsellors who should be trained in the next three years.

Linh emphasised that much attention should be paid to physical and mental health of students.

Given huge pressure from daily life, students might suffer such consequences as boredom, poor score in learning or severe depression, even suicide if the problem wasn’t spotted and treated.

"We have to draw experiences from South Korea and Japan where more and more younger people suffer depression and the suicide rate among youth is very high,” Linh said.

He said the colleges specialising in school psychology training should offer more courses to help school counsellors. A network of psychology consultant centres, which could assist those dealing with serious cases, should also be established.

He also said the MoET had assigned the Vietnam Institute of Educational Sciences to set up training programmes for psychological teachers.

In the coming years, school counselling service will be reviewed to ensure physical and mental health for both teachers and students, and teachers who have psychological difficulties will be assisted while students will be empowered to cope with mental stress in general and psychology in particular.

Nguyễn Tùng Lâm, Chairman of the Hanoi Association for Educational Psychology said that school counselling was a complex issue which requires high flexibility. School counsellors needed to have basic knowledge of skills on both psychology and career levels for students.

“The most important issue in school counselling is to help students change their behaviour despite the fact it is time-consuming and requires staff to be creative,” he said.

Lâm said without proper psychological counselling, the educational sector would continue to have to cope with many problems relating to school violence.

Relating to the misbehaviours by students and teachers, Đinh Phương Duy, Chairman of HCM City Association for Educational Psychology, said it was necessary to reform the educational sector, especially university enrollment.

“Only those who really like teaching are encouraged to enrol in teacher training colleges”, he told the Tuổi Trẻ (Youth) newspaper.

In the meantime, the teachers training programmes should concentrate on teaching methods and other skills needed in dealing with unexpected situations that might arise in school, he said. — VNS