UNICEF applauds Viet Nam’s progress on the establishment of social work and counseling positions in Health and Education institutions
Ha Noi, 5 December 2023 – With an increase in the prevalence of mental health challenges in children and adolescents, and the prevention of abuse and violence against women and children as a key priority in Viet Nam, UNICEF commended today the recent Government decisions that create social work and counselling positions in health and education institutions.
Welcoming the recent government approval of two important circulars, crucial to the prevention, protection and response for vulnerable children UNICEF Representative to Viet Nam, Rana Flowers congratulated the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education and Training for delivering on these key legislative steps that will ensure skilled expertise is accessible, actively identifying women and children at risk, providing protection and ensuring case management and a supportive response. The guidance to establish social work and counselling staff positions in hospitals and schools is an essential step as Viet Nam builds a more robust, better connected protective system for its women and children. "Addressing the complex social issues, ensuring ever stronger prevention approaches are in place, effectively responding to the physical, mental, emotional and psychosocial costs of violence, as well as the increasing mental health challenges in this country - requires professional social work skills and a well-resourced workforce, she added.
Social workers play a critical role in promoting social change, cohesion, and the empowerment of people. They are instrumental in supporting vulnerable and marginalized communities, promoting social justice and reducing inequality.
In the health sector, social workers collaborate with medical professionals to help patients and their families cope with illness, disease, and hospitalization. They also play a key role in provision of health care, and protection of children and women victims of violence and abuse. The enactment of Circular 03/2023/TT-BYT by the Ministry of Health, which defines staff posts of social workers and the ratio of social workers to other professional staff in health care facilities, is an important milestone in the development of social work in the health sector.
In the education sector, school counsellors are essential to enhance students’ emotional, mental and physical well-being, and improve their academic performance. In a landmark step, Circular 20/2023 TT-BGDDT stipulates that all primary to secondary education schools for the first time will have a school counsellor position, with a full-time staff post in each school providing psychosocial support for students. The school counsellor will also act as the focal point for social work services and child protection in school. This circular reflects the Ministry of Education and Training's strong commitment to enhance child protection, mental health care and psychosocial support for students.
UNICEF has worked closely with relevant ministries and agencies to provide evidence, expertise, international best practices, and technical support for the development of professional, university trained social workers across Social Welfare and Labour, Health and Education sectors.
“We will continue to work with the Government of Viet Nam to improve the legal framework to recognize the roles and functions of social workers, to strengthen the capacity of the social service workforce, to improve child protection, counselling, psychosocial support and mental health care services for all children and adolescents, and to promote inter-agency cooperation to holistically address the needs of children and women victims of violence,” said Flowers. “By recognizing and valuing professional social workers as heroes in their communities, we will secure a better future for millions of children, women, and vulnerable people”, she added.
UNICEF promotes the rights and well-being of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere. For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit https://www.unicef.org/vietnam