Stressed out Vietnamese falling mentally ill in the millions

By Minh Nga   April 7, 2019 | 05:01 am PT
Stressed out Vietnamese falling mentally ill in the millions
High-school students wait for their exam at a school in Ho Chi Minh City in March, 2019. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran
Stress is causing mental illnesses among 15 percent of Vietnam’s 95 million people, especially the youth, the health ministry says.

At a conference organized by the Vietnam National Institute of Mental Health in Hanoi this week, the ministry said that mental disorders related to stress have increased strongly in recent years.

The institute received one or two patients needing treatment for psychological disorders and mental stress a day 15-20 years ago, but the number has risen to 300.

Duong Minh Tam, head of the department dealing with stress-related disorders at the institute, said such problems were mostly found in young people, more females than males.

Many youth have been admitted to the institute for damaging themselves physically due to stress at school and at home, he said.

Institute doctors said most patients and their families were not aware of their conditions for a long time, preventing timely treatment and worsening the situation.

In February last year, a study released by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) said mental health and psychosocial problems are widespread and increasing in Vietnam, particularly among children and young people, and despite some progress, the mental health response system remains largely inadequate.

The lack of mental health services is particularly acute in remote provinces and is unable to prevent suicide and treat mental health disorders, which are often at the heart of suicidal ideation and attempts, it said.

It added that even when mental health and psychosocial services were provided through social welfare and social protection centers, mental health hospitals and psychosocial units in schools, their quality and coverage was limited, and often focused more on severe disorders.

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