World Children’s Day Celebration in Viet Nam
Protect and promote the mental health of all children and young people
HA NOI, 17 November 2021 – Children, young people, Government leaders, mental health experts, celebrities and KOLs joined UNICEF today in an event to celebrate the World Children’s Day. A day where the commitments made by Governments to respecting and protecting the rights outlined in the Convention on Rights of the Child are reaffirmed, a day for children, by children.
This year’s event, co-organized by UNICEF and the Ministry of Labour, Invalids, and Social Affairs (MOLISA), highlights the importance of the strongest possible mental health of children, making the case for quality investment and action to support, nurture and protect the mental health of all children and adolescents.
With life, education, expectations, and relationship pressures the incidence of mental health challenges has been a concern for many years. The incidence increasing for children who are stigmatized as different, feeling overwhelming parental pressures, isolated by abuse, neglect and other childhood adversities.
But these numbers are increasing. Almost two years into the pandemic, children across the world are exhibiting a worrying level of anxiety, fear, insecurity and uncertainty. In many countries, the pandemic has led to escalating levels of self-harm and suicide. UNICEF calls for immediate investment and action to ensure that the pandemic does not result in an epidemic of lost hopes, lost confidence, and lost dreams of the generation who experience this pandemic as children. In focusing World Children’s Day on mental health, UNICEF and MOLISA believe there cannot be a more important moment to pause, to focus and to create a more understanding, more accepting and more supportive world for children.
The focus of the event is to share an understanding of just how threatened and challenged children feel and create momentum and commitment to nourishing positive mental health, to supporting children and adolescents to speak their truth, to share their worries, to feel safe in being honest about not being ok. Key messages for this day reinforce that “it’s ok, not to feel ok” and that rather than disguising and hiding their pain, they should share their truth, help each other speak up and get support. Mental health like physical health must be nurtured. There are activities that nourish positive mental health - that schools and communities can practice and reinforce. In the same way, you don’t leave physical health to chance and hope problems just go away, there are trained supports and investments that Government can make, that address challenges before they become tragedies.
In the last two years, the impact of this pandemic can be measured across every area of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, we experience regression in the achievement of all rights, we see more and more children left behind. The pandemic has shone a light on insufficiently addressed areas like violence, digital access or child labour, but it has also highlighted just how much the turmoil in the outside world can affect the world inside our heads. It has made so much more obvious that good health – is not just about physical health – it is about our mental health. Isolated from friends, deprived of routines, confronted with fear, grief and uncertainty, the pandemic has highlighted the importance of children and young people’s mental health and well-being” said Rana Flowers, UNICEF Representative to Viet Nam
As the COVID-19 pandemic is having a negative impact on children and young people, MOLISA Vice Minister Nguyen Thi Ha called for more attention and stronger action from relevant Government agencies in improving mental health of children and caregivers by implementing practical and sustainable solutions, such as: strengthening communication and education on parenting to early detect and reduce psychological trauma for children; applying multi-sectoral approach in health, education and social protection of children's mental health and psychosocial care; review and developing laws and policies on mental and psychosocial health care of children in the social protection system; development of social work profession including child psychosocial support in the social assistance system; research and developing programs and schemes to support children to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19, with emphasis on comprehensive, multidisciplinary support programs on mental health and psychosocial care.
At the event, children and young people told their own stories, highlighting the fact that the lack of awareness, and stigma are primary factors preventing them from getting the help they need. They also emphasized the importance of having appropriate mental health and psychosocial support services for children and young people in Viet Nam.
In the role of mental health expert, Prof. Dr. Tran Thanh Nam talked to children and assured them that mental health exists on a continuum that can include periods of well-being and periods of distress, most of which will never evolve into a diagnosable disorder. “We all have days that are better than others. Sharing your bad days is just as important as sharing your good days. It can be hard to open up, even with people you trust, but it's the first step to getting the support you may need”.
As parents, writer Trang Ha, TV host Thao Van and singer Duy Khoa emphasized that positive parenting, supportive relationships with children combined with open, honest, and stigma-free conversations are essentials for children’s and young people’s positive mental health and well-being. They also agreed that many parents need supports to fulfill this critical role.
At the event, UNICEF announced a joint campaign with TikTok. Taking the idea of “disconnect to reconnect”, the campaign encourages children to separate themselves from digital devices and spend time with families, friends and experience the real world.
World Children’s Day is celebrated globally on 20 November every year – to mark the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child - the most widely ratified human rights treaty in history. During the past several years, World Children’s Day has been a fun day with a serious message, when UNICEF highlights the most pressing issues facing children, celebrate the progress, energize leaders and address the work that still needs to be done. It’s also the time for children around the world to unite to raise their voices.
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing 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 COVID-19, visit https://www.unicef.org/vietnam/covid-19
For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit https://www.unicef.org/vietnam