It’s vital for schools at all levels to provide quality mental health services to help students overcome difficulties in their studies and lives.
Causes and effects of mental health issues
A report by the World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned that twenty per cent of young Vietnamese are living with mental health issues, and that rates of anxiety and depression in this group are rising.
The most common causes of anxiety and depression are isolation, emotional abuse and educational stress.
Presenting at the conference Building and developing counselling services in schools, hosted by the Ho Chi Minh City Pedagogical University, RMIT Vietnam Student Counsellor Ms Le Thi Minh Tam informed the audience that many students fail to recognise that they have a mental health issue and therefore do not ask for support.
“Also, they feel ashamed to speak to a counsellor, particularly when they are living away from their family,” said Ms Tam, who has 16 years of counselling experience.
“Numerous stressors at the same time can increase the risk of depression and mental health issues. The longer the mental health problems persist unaddressed, the greater the detrimental impact is.”
She added that these issues can impact academic performance.
“Mental health issues can impact concentration, memory, decision making and motivation. Students experiencing poor mental health are more likely to exit their courses early,” she said.
Early intervention key to dealing with mental health issues
Raising awareness and early identification of mental health problems will minimise their negative effects on students.
RMIT Vietnam has initiated mental health screening of students in its residence as part of the University’s strategy for taking a pro-active approach to managing student mental health. The research shows that international students (and students living away from families) are a particularly high risk group for experiencing psychological distress. By screening them, the University can offer early intervention and prevention strategies so that students’ long term health and studies are minimally impacted.
RMIT Vietnam’s Counselling Service has been providing high-quality counselling services to students since 2008.
In addition to providing one-by-one counselling, the Counselling Service also organises workshops about life skills and hosts the annual Wellbeing Day to raise awareness of and create a positive impact on student wellbeing.
On 18 December 2017, the Ministry of Education and Training issued a circular requesting all elementary and high schools and other related organisations to establish student counselling services. The directive aims to help students resolve psychological difficulties in their studies and lives, as well as to enhance their life skills.
Story: Le Mong Thuy