Mental health important as physical health

WVR - UNICEF is calling for enhanced mental health strategies to support the young generation in Viet Nam as part of World Children’s Day 2023.
UNICEF Vietnam dedicates its World Children’s Day 2023 to the promotion of mental well-being
UNICEF Vietnam dedicates its World Children’s Day 2023 to the promotion of mental well-being. (Photo: UNICEF)

1. The findings of the latest National Adolescent Mental Health survey highlight a concerning reality: many children, adolescents and young people are struggling with mental health challenges, lacking the essential coping skills, support or services critical to their overall well-being.

The survey showed that one in five adolescents face a mental health issue, with only 8.4 per cent of them able to access necessary support services or counselling for emotional and behavioral challenges. Moreover, only 5.1 percent of parents recognized that their adolescent needed help for emotional and behavioral problems.

2. Mental health has been identified as a matter of concern by young people themselves. Earlier this year, UNICEF Vietnam 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.

Therefore, UNICEF Vietnam's World Children’s Day special campaign is focusing on providing positive approaches and resources to promote mental well-being and destigmatize mental health issues.

3. UNICEF Representative in Vietnam, Rana Flowers congratulated the Government of Vietnam on "its current efforts to develop a comprehensive mental health strategy" and stated that, 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.

According to her, children and adolescents, parents and teachers need to be equipped with skills, knowledge and resources to enjoy and promote mental well-being.

“It is essential that all of us – parents, teachers, social workers, health workers, government and private sector— work to de-stigmatize 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.

4. Starting from tomorrow, 20th November, which marks the anniversary of the coming into force of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), a communication campaign will be launched to deliver mental health-related information and positive approaches. Named “Open Up & Connect”, this campaign will run until 11 December – UNICEF’s 77th anniversary — providing tips, resources and creative ideas, through to 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,” said Flowers. “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 Vietnam is working on has a specific focus on children and adolescents,” she concluded.

5. Children and youth participation is a core principle of the CRC and UNICEF is committed to strengthening the participation of children and young people in activities and discussions on areas that matter to them and will impact their lives.

Thus, during every World Children’s Day, UNICEF Vietnam enhances their participation, including children’s takeovers in various offices undertaking worker roles for a few hours, speaking about their concerns, sharing ideas and gaining insight into the future employment opportunities that will need their skills in the future.

UNICEF Vietnam’s young entrepreneur network NexGen initiative has also partnered with businesses in Ho Chi Minh City to welcome groups of children and adolescents as a part of World Children’s Day agenda, while landmark buildings in Ha Noi, Ho Chi Minh City and Da Nang will switch their lighting to blue to celebrate the rights of every child.

To promote mental well-being, UNICEF Vietnam will organize an event on November 28 in Hanoi where experts from several ministries and academia will analyze 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 Da Nang city until 26 November.
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