UNICEF is calling for enhanced mental health strategies to support the young generation in Vietnam, including the launch of a communication campaign entitled ‘Open Up & Connect’ as part of World Children’s Day 2023, which falls on November 20.
The campaign will be rolled out on November 20, which marks the anniversary of the coming into force of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), and run until December 11, which is the 77th anniversary of UNICEF.
The ‘Open Up & Connect’ campaign will provide tips, resources, and creative ideas to help people learn how to better identify when a friend, daughter, son, student or oneself is struggling.
Quick tips and activities will provide coping strategies as well as encourage all to open up and connect with others -- a friend, parent, or teacher -- who can provide support.
Mental health has been identified as a matter of concern by young people themselves.
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 Vietnamese adolescents had a mental health issue, with only 8.4 percent of them able to access necessary support services or counseling for emotional and behavioral challenges.
Moreover, only 5.1 percent of parents recognized that their adolescent needed help for emotional and behavioral problems.
“Congratulating 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 well-being," said Rana Flowers, UNICEF representative in Vietnam.
“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 the 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."
Earlier this year, UNICEF Vietnam consulted its network of young people (U-report) on the issue of the 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.
“Mental health is just as normal and important as our physical health,” said Flowers.
“It is critical that this should be addressed at all levels – at home, at school, in communities, and by the government – to ensure that the National Mental Health Strategy that the Vietnamese government is working on has a specific focus on children and adolescents."
To promote mental well-being, UNICEF Vietnam will also 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 while sharing 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, central Vietnam until November 26.
Children and youth participation is a core principle of the CRC, and UNICEF is committed to engaging the population that it serves 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 insights into the future employment opportunities that will need their skills.
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 the World Children’s Day agenda, while landmark buildings in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, and Da Nang will switch their lighting to blue to celebrate the rights of every child.