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Health experts urge parents to take care of children's mental health

Adolescent suicide is on the rise in Vietnam, but adults and parents do not know how to identify and support at-risk children, according to doctors.

Medical experts warn of rising numbers of young people suffering from depression. Illustrative

On Sunday, two teenage girls committed suicide together in HCM City’s District 2, a shocking incident that has led to public concern about how to prevent adolescent suicide and better care for young people's mental health.

Doctor Nguyen Thi Thanh Mai, from the Paediatrics Ward under the Hà Nội Medical University Hospital, told Sức khỏe & đời sống (Health and Life) newspaper that data from several recent small studies in Vietnam showed the rate of adolescents with depression is 26.3 per cent and 5.8 per cent say they have attempted to commit suicide. 

The small-scale studies indicated that depression was a common contributing factor, while social and familial problems as well as abuse also often played a role.

In her work, doctor Mai said she regular treats children suffering from depression but their parents seem unconcerned or ignorant of the risks of the mental health condition. She said she has even encountered children who self-harm but their parents are relatively unconcerned and suggest they were just copying their friends.

That was an unfortunate mistake of parents and adults, she said.

Mai said parents should see changes in their child's behaviour as possible signs of depression, such as struggling to focus, problems with their school work, becoming less active or exhibiting hostile behaviour.

Mai also emphasised that very few children tell their parents about their suicidal intentions, but there are unfortunate cases where children try to communicate their pain but face indifference from adults.

The doctor added that suicide is often related to depression and the condition is best treated when diagnosed early. 

The role of adults in protecting the mental health of children is very important and parents should take care of their children and share their problems in life, Mai said.

Mai advised parents to take their children to a psychiatrist as soon as they suspect their child has a mental health problem such as depression.

She added that while children may struggle to open up to their parents, an expert may be better positioned to help them.  


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