A patient with depression is being treated at the National Institute of Mental Health in Hanoi. Photo by VnExpress/Thuy An
Around 15 million Vietnamese are afflicted with mental illnesses, with depression and anxiety taking the top spots, Deputy Health Minister Tran Van Thuan said.
At a Monday meeting to commemorate World Mental Health Day (Oct. 10), Thuan said around 14.9% of the Vietnamese population suffer mental illnesses. Most people in Vietnam associate mental illnesses with schizophrenia, while the condition actually only afflicts 0.47% of the population, he added.
Depression and anxiety affect around 5-6% of the population, while other conditions include bipolar disorders or alcohol-induced psychiatric issues, he said.
A total 12% of the child population suffer from mental disorders, meaning that over three million children are in need of mental health support services. Anyone can be affected by mental illnesses at certain points in life, Thuan said.
Many people with mental disorders could not have access to appropriate mental health services. Only 29% of those with mental disorders and around one-third of those with depression get to receive official mental health support globally, Thuan said.
“This is the direct consequence of subpar investment below basic levels, where countries only allocate around 2% of their medical budget for mental health,” he added.
Luong Ngoc Khue, head of the Department of Medical Service Administration, said mental illnesses usually have no exact causes, and are often the result of several biological, psychological and environmental factors. Childhood trauma, discrimination and substance abuse can all trigger mental disorders, he added.
“Mental disorder is like any other condition. It needs to be diagnosed and treated. As such, people need to gain better awareness on mental disorders and fight discrimination,” Khue said, adding that everyone is hesitant to acknowledge their own mental health problems.
In Vietnam, only medical facilities at provincial level or central facilities have mental health departments that provide care and treatment. Treatment usually only involves medications, while other methods like counseling or psychotherapy have not been adequately developed.
Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh has approved a national plan to prevent non-infectious diseases and mental health disorders for the 2022-2025 period in a bid to combat mental health issues among the population.