The event highlighted the importance of strong mental health of children, making the case for quality investment and action to support, nurture and care for the mental health of all children and adolescents.
The challenging pressures of life, education, expectations, and relationships upon mental health have been a concern for many years. There has been an increase in stigmatisation of children for being different because of overwhelming parental pressures, isolation by abuse, neglect, and other childhood adversities. This problem is on the rise. 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.
The focus of the event was to share an understanding of just how threatened and challenged children feel and to create momentum and commitment to nourishing positive mental health, to supporting children and adolescents to speak their truth, to share their worries, and to feel safe in being honest about not being ok.
Addressing the ceremony, Deputy Minister of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs Nguyen Thi Ha said that World Children's Day is a chance to act and advocate policies and raise public awareness of urgent problems facing children.
This year, the day takes place in a special context as children and adolescents are suffering severe impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic on their learning and mental health, said Ha, noting that child abuse has also been on the rise.
COVID-19, which has sent many children to quarantine and turned many into orphans, has become a direct threat to children's mental health, she added.
Ha said that MoLISA has coordinated with relevant ministries and agencies to promote knowledge and understanding about children's mental health care and social psychology. This is geared towards medical workers, teachers and parents as well as children's caregivers in quarantine facilities, families, schools and residential areas. The goal is to improve the capacity of services for mental health care and psychological trauma prevention among children amid COVID-19, and help form a network for child care in the community.
The official called on ministries, sectors, agencies and organisations to give greater attention to and take stronger actions to enhance the mental health of children and their caregivers in order to help them overcome the COVID-19 crisis.
According to UNICEF Chief Representative in Vietnam Rana Flowers, in the past two years, due to impacts from COVID-19, many issues related to child rights have been affected. Even when the pandemic comes to an end, its socio-economic impacts and consequences upon people's psychological health will still persist, she said.
Noting that mental health has yet to receive adequate attention, Flowers stressed the need to encourage children to share and speak out about their problems in order to receive support and improve their mental health.
Governments of countries should consider plans and strategies on caring for children's mental health while investing in child support services, she said, stressing the need for schools, communities and parents to recognise children's problems and give them timely support.
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. It marks the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child – the most widely ratified human rights treaty in history. It is a fun day with a serious message. UNICEF highlights the most pressing issues facing children, celebrates progress, energises leaders and addresses the work that still needs to be done. It is also a time for children around the world to unite and raise their voices./.
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