Home Mental Health & Well-Being Vietnam Faces Mental Health Crisis – Over 90% of Affected Individuals Lack Access to Formal Services

Vietnam Faces Mental Health Crisis – Over 90% of Affected Individuals Lack Access to Formal Services

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In Vietnam, approximately 14 million individuals suffer from mental disorders, a startling figure when set against the backdrop of a severe lack of mental health professionals. The country has a mere 143 clinical psychologists and psychotherapists. Further compounding the issue is that clinical psychology services aren’t covered by health insurance.

These revelations came to light during a recent conference organized by the Department of Medical Service Administration (DMSA). The objective was to enhance the capacity of Vietnam’s mental healthcare system between 2023–30. Cao Hung Thai, the deputy director of DMSA, remarked on Vietnam’s unique challenges: an aging population, a high number of individuals with neural disabilities, and lingering ramifications from the Covid pandemic.

Despite the mounting challenges, mental health remains under-prioritised compared to other health sectors. A DMSA survey from the previous year found that only 61.3% of district hospitals offer outpatient services for the mentally ill, and a paltry 9.1% have provisions for inpatient care.

In Vietnam, the primary approach to mental health treatment revolves around medication. Limited resources mean that specialized mental rehabilitation services are scarce. Alarmingly, there are no structured mental health programs to aid individuals affected by natural calamities, including floods, droughts, and disease outbreaks.

Vietnam’s challenges are underscored by escalating mental health issues. Data from the National Psychiatric Hospital No 1 indicates that the prevalence of ten prevalent mental disorders stood at 14.2% in 2014. Of these, depressive disorders constituted 2.45%. There’s also an urgent need to address children’s mental health, with up to 20% of Vietnamese children and adolescents grappling with mental health issues.

Furthermore, misconceptions and societal stigmas concerning mental illnesses persist. A widespread misconception is equating psychosis solely with schizophrenia, overlooking other manifestations like depression, anxiety, and alcohol-induced psychosis. Such misunderstandings often result in treatment delays.

Regrettably, the majority of Vietnamese citizens don’t have access to mental health services. The bulk of these services are concentrated in central and provincial hospitals. Local-level healthcare primarily focuses on treating schizophrenia and epilepsy, which combined, account for just about 0.5% of the nation’s mental health disorders. This underlines a grave service deficit, with over 90% of people with mental disorders being left untreated.

Experts at the DMSA conference emphasized inter-ministry coordination, preventive measures, and enhancing rehabilitation and social support mechanisms. The consensus was clear: Vietnam must bolster its mental health infrastructure to provide holistic, community-centred care.

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