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Mental health and psychosocial well-being among adolescents in Viet Nam

Research report

Written by Fiona Samuels, Jose Manuel Roche, Hoang-Minh Dang, Phuong Nguyen, Van Vu, Ngoc Nguyen, Emma Samman, Georgia Plank, Arnaldo Pellini

Image credit:Painting featured at the UNiTE circle exhibition organized with the Vietnam Youth Union, Vietnam Women’s Museum in Ha Noi, November 2011. Credit: Krista Seddon / Flickr.

This mixed-methods baseline study seeks to shed light on the mental health needs and psychosocial well-being of adolescents, living in project locations in Viet Nam.

This ODI Report is focused on identifying the key drivers of mental ill-health and psychosocial wellbeing among two subgroups of adolescents (those aged 11–15 years and those aged 16–19 years) in two cities: Vin City and Nha Trang, in Viet Nam.

In Viet Nam, approximately 3 million children (aged 12 or above) are in need of mental health services, with needs varying significantly across the 10 provinces surveyed. Viet Nam’s mental health system is heavily focused on treating severe mental disorders (especially epilepsy and schizophrenia) in urban hospitals. Where mental health services do exist, youth uptake is low. Partly due to lack of knowledge about those services, partly to stigma surrounding mental ill-health, and lack of age- or gender-appropriate services.

Drawing on a broad range of methodologies, including quantitative psychosocial well-being surveys, in-depth interviews, focus group discussions, family case studies and key informant interviews, this research reveals the key protective factors for mental health and underlying drivers of mental ill-health. The baseline study also delves into mental health coping strategeies of adolescents, as well as the ease of access to services and role of technology. The ODI Report concludes with recommendations for governments, development partners and civil-society organsiations working on adolescent mental health in Viet Nam.

This baseline ODI Report has been supported by Fondation Botnar which has granted ODI and our in-country partners — the Tanzanian Training Centre for International Health (TTCIH) and the Center of Research, Information and Services in Psychology (CRISP) at the Vietnam National University, a 2.5-year project. The aim is to address the mental health needs of adolescents in schools, in the community and at the institutional level, in both Tanzania and Viet Nam, through the co-creation and application of digital and non-digital approaches and technologies.