A doctor is providing consultation on mental health care for a teenage patient. According to a recent survey, one in five adolescents face a mental health issue. VNA/VNS Photo

Many children, adolescents and young people struggle with mental health challenges while lacking the essential coping skills, support or services critical to their overall well-being, according to the latest result of the National Adolescent Mental Health survey.

The survey showed that one in five adolescents face a mental health issue, with only 8.4 per cent able to access necessary support services or counselling for emotional and behavioural challenges.

Only 5.1 per cent of parents recognised that their adolescent child needed help for emotional and behavioural problems.

In Việt Nam, the rate of 10 common mental disorders is 14.9 per cent of the population, but anyone can suffer from mental disorders, at least at some point, according to doctor Trần Văn Thuấn.

UNICEF is calling for enhanced mental health strategies to support the young generation in Việt Nam as part of World Children’s Day 2023.

Mental health has been identified as a matter of concern by young people themselves. Earlier this year, UNICEF Việt Nam consulted its network of young people (U-report) on the issue of greatest concern to the population UNICEF serves: children, adolescents and young people.

The majority of participants selected ‘mental health’, appealing for stronger attention and support, asking UNICEF to dedicate World Children’s Day 2023 to championing their mental well-being.

UNICEF Representative in Việt Nam, Rana Flowers congratulated the Vietnamese Government on its current efforts to develop a comprehensive mental health strategy.

“UNICEF encourages a specific focus on early intervention, introducing relevant strategies and interventions specifically designed for children and adolescents, that build skills and resilience and promote mental wellbeing,” said Flowers.

“Children and adolescents, parents and teachers need to be equipped with skills, knowledge and resources to enjoy and promote mental well-being,” she said.

“It is essential that all of us – parents, teachers, social workers, health workers, government and private sector — work to de-stigmatise mental health, understand how the experience and response for girls and boys may differ, and actively and persistently promote mental well-being approaches and strategies to strengthen the prevention of serious risks in this area,” she added.

Starting from Monday (November 20), which marks the anniversary of the coming into force of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), a communication campaign was launched to deliver mental health-related information and positive approaches.

Named “Open Up & Connect”, this campaign will run until December 11 – UNICEF’s 77th anniversary — providing tips, resources and creative ideas, as well as information on learning how to better identify when a friend, daughter, son, student or oneself are struggling.

Quick tips and activities will provide coping strategies as well as encourage all to open up and connect with others – a friend, parent, teacher — who can provide support.

“Mental health is just as normal and important as our physical health. It is critical that this is addressed at all levels - at home, at school, in communities and by government - to ensure that the National Mental Health Strategy that the Government of Việt Nam is working on has a specific focus on children and adolescents,” she said.

To promote mental well-being, UNICEF Việt Nam Nam will organise an event on November 28 in Hà Nội where experts from several ministries and academia will analyse the national mental health situation of children and adolescents, and share ideas and lessons learnt in support of a dynamic and child/adolescent sensitive national strategy.

Importantly, the participants will learn about concerns and ideas to promote mental well-being directly from young people, as well as from outcomes of the ‘Hackathon Competition 2023’ taking place in Đà Nẵng City until November 26.

Children and youth participation is a core principle of the CRC and UNICEF says it is committed to engaging the population that it serves in activities and discussions on areas that matter to them and will impact their lives. VNS