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Fogarty Fellow Dr Dang Hoang Minh addresses COVID mental health needs in Vietnam
May / June 2020 | Volume 19, Number 3
Photo courtesy of Van
Dr. Dang Hoang Minh creates
resources to help families cope
with the mental health effects of
By Dr. Dang Hoang Minh
Fogarty Fellow at Vietnam National University
The COVID-19 pandemic is posing serious psychological issues, especially for children and adolescents who often suffer more profoundly from disasters. This vulnerable age group has little control over their family situation, little experience coping with major events and less ability to put events in perspective. Kids and teens are also particularly sensitive to the stress that their parents experience and express. To help address this need, I am collaborating with UNICEF-Vietnam to develop a set of pandemic-related mental health and psychosocial support materials focused on children and adolescents.
The materials we are developing are designed to help families cope with the mental health effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown - including a possible second wave of coronavirus in the fall - as well as future public health emergencies or natural disasters. The project includes training social workers and teachers how to use the materials.
Underlying research for the project involved interviewing 220 parents and children about their mental health during the pandemic, as well as the challenges they faced and the solutions they developed. For example, a common challenge for parents during the lockdown period was inspiring children and teens to exercise while remaining indoors. One mother required her teenage son perform 15 pushups and five minutes of jumping jacks for every 20 minutes he spent using his smart phone.
In addition to families, we also talked to approximately 40 social workers, teachers, and policy makers, including representatives of the Ministry of Education and Training, to determine how to maximize the utility of our resource now and in the future.
My project wouldn’t be possible without the various Fogarty-related programs developed in Vietnam over the past two decades, the mentorship of Dr. Bahr Weiss at Vanderbilt University and the informal network of former Fogarty trainees who maintain professional mental health and research positions around the country.
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