HÀ NỘI — Residents living near an apartment building in Hà Nội were shocked when they discovered a 11-year-old girl had jumped from the 39th floor last Tuesday.
She died on the spot.
In a suicide note, the girl said that she couldn't stand watching her parents fight anymore. She said she missed the happy times and wanted to escape the fact that her parents were getting a divorce.
The girl’s action highlighted the fact there is a serious lack of psychological support for children, especially those with special conditions. The best advice of course should come from parents and teachers before experts are asked to help.
A recent survey co-organised by the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Planning and Investment’s General Statistics Office interviewed 3,000 students aged between 10 and 16 in the capital city of Hà Nội and the northern city of Hải Dương.
Nine per cent of them said they had considered committing suicide, whereas six per cent had attempted suicide and 19.5 per cent said they had psychological disorders.
I believe that a lack of support from teachers and parents are the cause of the problem. Students do not know who to ask, so they have to find the answers themselves. And the answers can be negative, leading to regrettable consequences.
Nguyễn Tùng Lâm, chairman of the Hà Nội Education Psychology Association and principal of Đinh Tiên Hoàng High School, said students were suffering the pressure society and their families were putting on them.
Successful parents are were those who understood their children, and successful teachers clearly understood their students’ psychology as they grew up.
“It’s best if teachers and parents become close with their children before they seek professional advice,” said Lâm.
Teachers and parents should act as “friends” to the children, so they are listened to and observed.
However, Lâm said, few people were capable of doing that.
“At universities and colleges, psychology does not receive much attention. It’s not considered a main subject. When they graduate from university, teachers just focus on their professional subjects, and don't pay attention to their students psychological needs," he said.
Phạm Quỳnh Trang, an English teacher at Nhân Chính Junior Secondary School in Hà Nội, said that expanding consultations at schools was an excellent idea, but few schools had enough facilities.
There was also little training available for teachers, she said.
Teachers faced a lot of work and pressure, and even have to work extra hours in the evenings to prepare lessons for the following day, grade papers, or review the students' performances.
Besides, Trang said many parents thought it was the schools’ duty to educate children, not theirs.
“They forget that family is the best environment for students to study and grow,” said Trang.
In every case, Trang believes parents and families should be the first, and the most important factor, in educating children.
But sometimes parents and the children are not fully aware of the importance of psychological support.
Nguyễn Hồng Ánh, a mother in Hà Nội’s Hà Đông District, said for most parents, “psychological consultation” was a difficult issue they never even thought about.
“Besides, some of them do not want to accept that their children are suffering from mental disorders,” she said.
In general, Ánh said, most parents were not familiar with the term “psychological support”, and did not realise the benefits of it.
“In many cases, the parents themselves need advice. At that time, school support is necessary,” she said.
The development of social networks, smart devices and pressure to study is affecting young people's mental health.
To help children overcome daily difficulties, it’s necessary and important for both parents and teachers to pay them enough care.
Teenagers may develop physically, but their psychology is also important, so they need guidance and advice about everything.
It’s high time adults woke up to this issue. Spending time with children, listening to them and understanding their wishes are very important actors that help protect their children from regrettable actions. — VNS