Mental Healthcare for Children in Vietnam
There are numerous nuances to consider with regard to the factors that affect the quality of mental healthcare for children in Vietnam. Government support, the level of expertise, and the state of training and infrastructure should be discussed. In addition, to improve the current performance, this is essential to consider the potential for development in this area by paying attention to issues related to working with children in schools and addressing crucial risk factors, such as violence.
With the poor development of mental health services in rural Vietnam and the lack of staff, any help from the Vietnamese government is significant. While taking into account the local mentality, when people deliberately hide mental disorders so as not to reveal themselves due to social stigmatization, the situation is complicated because there is no exact information about how much intervention should be conducted. Nevertheless, despite the aforementioned challenges and barriers, there have been shifts recently, including the issues of interaction with the child population. According to Nguyen et al. (2020), “the Vietnamese government has made significant efforts over the last 10 years to develop a policy framework to improve general school health services” (p. 802).
Particularly, at the school level, more professional health officers have been recruited to provide real help to children with mental disabilities. In addition, the program has been approved, which concerns the creation of special courses in educational establishments in the country (Nguyen et al., 2020). With limited resources and the existing social problems, this support is a significant step towards improving the current situation.
Level of Expertise
Although the lack of staff and a poor resource base affects the quality of mental healthcare, in Vietnamese hospitals, the level of expertise meets a number of modern standards. As Nguyen et al. (2019) state, the approach to patients is individual, and the treatment teams include specialists of different profiles. Nevertheless, as the researchers note, a number of problems make effective care difficult (Nguyen et al., 2019). For instance, the lack of rehabilitation services does not allow performing expertise procedures at a sufficiently high level to receive comprehensive information about the quality of medical care and the effectiveness of interventions.
In addition, psychosocial services are lacking, which negatively affects provider-patient interactions and impedes creating a productive communication regime. Moreover, according to Nguyen (2018), in some Vietnamese clinics, religious background is strong, particularly in Buddhist practices, which, in turn, affects the poor expertise of the local staff due to the lack of appropriate medical education. Therefore, to provide adequate care for the child population with mental health disorders, a higher level of expertise needs to be promoted in Vietnamese clinics.
Training and Infrastructure
One of the key problems associated with mental healthcare is the lack of specialized training. This applies, first of all, to the personnel who are involved in interaction with the vulnerable audience at the stages of rehabilitation. Nguyen et al. (2018) argue that “Vietnam still does not have any training programme to produce social workers specialising in health and mental health” (p. 63). The authors also note that, according to the study of the operation of national health centers, none of its employees have the necessary training in mental health, including both junior and senior medical personnel (Nguyen et al., 2018).
The resource bases of such clinics do not provide employees with the conditions for high-quality interventions. As Nguyen et al. (2018) remark, the vast majority of specialized centers have “degraded infrastructure,” which is largely the fault of the government (p. 63). Thus, the inability to provide medical staff with the conditions for quality education and work with the necessary equipment and resources entails significant problems in the field of mental health, including among the child population.
Roadmap for Development
To address the aforementioned gaps in the sector under consideration, appropriate interventions need to be carried out not only at the healthcare but also at the education level. In particular, Duc et al. (2019) propose to expand the number of school counselors to interact with vulnerable children and provide them with timely assistance. Psychological trauma is a common risk factor, and the task of these professionals is to conduct targeted work with children and support them when needed. This practice can help minimize stress, which can ultimately lead to the development of severe mental disorders later in life.
Physical impacts on children, for instance, as a result of violence, are common causes of psychological trauma. According to Van Tuyết (2019), “one of the most serious problems or a big concern in Vietnamese education now is school violence” (p. 110). The involvement of adults is imperative to solve this problem. The interaction between parents and teachers should be established to prevent any cases of aggression against children. In traditional Vietnamese culture, the obedience of children to adults is a natural aspect (Van Tuyết, 2019). However, cases of aggression that entail children’s psychological trauma are unacceptable and are to be suppressed to reduce the proportion of mental disorders among the country’s child population.
Duc, H. D., Van, S. H., Diem, M. N. T., & Thien, V. G. (2019). Factors affected the psychological trauma of children living in incomplete families – The concern in Vietnamese school counseling. European Journal of Educational Research, 8(4), 955-963. Web.
Nguyen, H. (2018). Exploring perceptions of mental health clients and professionals about Buddhism‐based therapies at mental health hospitals in Vietnam. Asian Social Work and Policy Review, 12(2), 94-107. Web.
Nguyen, H. V., Do, H. T. H., Le, V. T. A., & Mai, N. A. (2018). Reviewing the latest national policies and services for people with severe mental health disorders in government-funded institutions in Vietnam, and policy recommendations for service improvements. Asia Pacific Journal of Social Work and Development, 28(1), 56-68. Web.
Nguyen, H., Hardesty, M., Nguyen, T., & Shiu, C. (2019). Mental health in Vietnam and the move to incorporate social work: A mixed methods study of staff perceptions and expectations. Social Work in Mental Health, 17(1), 23-47. Web.
Nguyen, D. T., Wright, E. P., Pham, T. T., & Bunders, J. (2020). Role of school health officers in mental health care for secondary school students in Can Tho City, Vietnam. School Mental Health, 12(4), 801-811. Web.
Van Tuyết, P. T. (2019). Violence rooted from school and family: Voices of Vietnamese insiders. Language, Discourse & Society, 7(1), 109-125.