Mental Health

Mental Health in Vietnam:

Mental health problems make a substantial contribution to the burden of illness in all countries. According to the World Health Organization’s Mental Health Survey Initiative conducted in 17 countries, the highest lifetime prevalence of mental health conditions (DSM-IV) occurred in the USA (47.4%) and the lowest in Nigeria (12.0%). Asian countries had relatively low prevalence ranging from 13.2% in China, 14.4% in Iran to 18.0% in Japan (Kessler et al., 2007; Fakhari et al., 2007). In Vietnam, mental health conditions have not been adequately researched, however a national epidemiological survey on common mental health conditions for the period covering 2001–2003 showed that the ten most common conditions combined indicated a prevalence of approximately 14.9% in the population. If this is used as a basis for estimation then we can predict that at least 12 million people are in need of mental health services in Vietnam.

The most prevalent conditions seen are alcohol abuse (5.3%), depression (2.8%) and anxiety (2.6%) (NPH No1, 2002). In addition, the movement of illegal drug use from rural and mountainous areas to urban areas led to a dramatic increase in drug abuse from 78 addicts per 100,000 in 1994 to 208 per 100,000 in 2004 (Nguyen and Scannapieco, 2008). Alcohol consumption is a key concern in Vietnam and it was found that 16.3% of men were at-risk of becoming dependent on alcohol (defined here by a daily average of >2.4 standard drinks); with 7.9% being alcohol dependent and 1.97% harmful users (Giang et al., 2005). Minh found that two thirds (66.7%) of men between the age of 25 and 44 years had consumed more than 3 standard drinks per day in the previous month, notably higher than men aged 45–64 years (59%) and men aged 65–74 (53.4%) (Minh et al., 2008).

Depressive conditions have the second highest prevalence among mental health conditions in Vietnam (NPHNo1, 2002). A recent national community-based study among 14–25 years old showed that a third (32%) experienced sad feelings about their life in general, a quarter (25%) felt so sad or helpless that they could no longer engage in their normal activities and found it difficult to function, a number (21%) felt disappointed about their future, with some (2.8%) trying to deliberately injure or harm themselves or reported to have made a suicide attempt (0.5%). The highest suicide attempt rate was reported for young males, particularly among 18–21 year olds living in urban areas (6.4%) and in rural areas (4.1%) (MOH, 2005). Similar results were also found by Huong et al. (2006) in relation to life time suicidal thoughts (8.9%), suicide plans (1.1%) and suicide attempts (0.4%).

Mental Health Projects in PHAD: 

1) Pilot Community Based Depression Management with Community Social Worker and Primary Health Care workers in Thanh Hoa and Ben Tre – A project funded by AP with contribution from MOLISA Vietnam

2) Transition to Scale: Mental Health in Adults and Children – Frugal Innovation (MAC-FI) – A project support by GCC Canada in Collaboration with SFU, SFI Canada with co-funding from MOLISA Vietnam.