National Taskforce for Mental Health System Development in Vietnam
- January 2010 - December 2014
- Ministry of Health, Department of Medical Service Administration (MoH)
- National Psychiatric Hospital No. 1
- National Institute of Mental Health, Bach Mai Hospital
- International Center/Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation (IC/VVAF)
GCMH has been working consistently in Vietnam since 1994. In December 2009 GCMH was awarded a 5-year, USD 2 million grant to establish a National Taskforce on Community Mental Health System Development in Vietnam (2010-2014). Modelled on the Centre’s successful work in Indonesia, the Taskforce is being led by the Vietnam Ministry of Health (MoH) and aims to become the main impetus for mental health system reform and development in Vietnam.
Photo: WHO-convened workshop on the formation of a national mental health taskforce, December 2007
The primary goal of the Taskforce Project is to strengthen the capacity of the MoH and other counterpart organisations (as well as key stakeholders including other relevant Ministries such as Labour Invalids and Social Affairs (MoLISA), Finance, and Education and Training), to plan, design, and deliver effective, accessible and affordable community mental health and social services to the population of Vietnam. The long-term expected outcomes of the project are:
- Strengthened management of community mental health services in Vietnam
- Improved international networking for mental health system development in Vietnam
- Improved quality of mental health services in primary health care system
- Improved protection of human rights for people with mental illness
- Improved mental health of population of Vietnam
- Improved governance and enhanced participation in mental health policy and service development strategies for international and national Taskforce partners
- Improved capacity of the Ministry of Health to use donor funds effectively as part of a coherent national strategy for development
- Improved inter-sectoral (government, university, WHO, NGOs) collaboration and harmonisation of efforts
- Sustained capacity of training in Leadership for Mental Health System Development in Vietnam
- Increased development of mental health services in Vietnam
To achieve the outcomes, the project includes significant research, training and engagement components in the areas of workforce development and other aspects of mental health system strengthening, including the development and implementation of monitoring and evaluation strategies.
GCMH have been involved in numerous activities to support the development of an effective mental health system (Figure 1). These activities include:
- in-depth consultations and collaboration with key stakeholders;
- provision of technical support to key Ministries for research, program development, policy development;
- participation in key Ministry meetings;
- emphasis on the need for such initiatives to be led by local Ministries (in partnership or with support from GCMH);
- promoting inter-disciplinary and inter-sectoral linkages;
- provision of leadership training both in Melbourne and in-country;
- supporting site-visits when appropriate;
- collaborative research and evaluation; and
- mobilisation of resources to maximise sustainability of the program of work.
Impact of the Taskforce Project so far:The achievements of the Taskforce Project so far (at its mid-point) suggest that we are making good progress in developing a sustainable program for ongoing work to strengthen mental health and social services for people with mental illnesses in Vietnam. This can be demonstrated primarily through the increased political will and strengthened collaboration and coordination with a range of stakeholders in mental health system development in Vietnam and internationally.
1. Political Will & Local Commitment/Capacity
- The support for addressing the treatment gap for people with mental illnesses by the Ministry of Health (MoH) and Ministry of Labour, Invalids, and Social Affairs (MoLISA) has increased substantially in the last few years.
- Ministry of Health support for mental health - Very substantial progress has been made in strengthening support for mental health by the responsible MoH department, the Medical Services Administration Department (MSA). On several occasions, including at national and international meetings, the Director of MSA, Professor Khue, has acknowledged that he now has a much better understanding of the importance of mental health within the non-communicable diseases for which he is responsible and the need for linkages with MoLISA who is responsible for the provision of social services for people with mental disorders through their Social Protection Program. He is committed to developing the mental health system and to collaborating with MoLISA. This strengthened commitment is demonstrated by a submission he has made to government concerning the need for further support for mental health workforce. Furthermore, he has nominated 13 MoH and Department of Health staff to participate in the 2012 iMHLP course in October, of whom 3 are from the Department of MSA. That he has approved 3 staff from MoH to take leave from their regular work responsibilities to leave the country to receive training is in itself is an indication of his support for mental health.
- Prime Ministerial Decision 32/2010/QD-TTg and Decision 1215/QD-Ttg - In 2010, Prime Ministerial Decision 32/2010/QD-TTg1 was announced, to develop social work as a profession and to train 60,000 social work staff, including social workers and officials, by 2020. In 2011, Prime Ministerial Decision 1215/QD-Ttg Project2, Community-Based Assistance and Functional Rehabilitation for Mental Ill and Mentally Disordered Project, 2011-2020 (“1215 Project”) was announced. This project sets out an ambitious program of national reform and development of community based functional rehabilitation and social support services for people with mental disorders in Vietnam, and makes available substantial funds from the state budget to implement this reform.
2. Strengthened collaborations within Vietnam and with International partners
- Based on a mutual commitment to the development of integrated and comprehensive treatment, rehabilitation, care, and social support services for the people of Vietnam with a mental disorder, the GCMH was invited by MoLISA in November 2011 to provide technical support for the effective implementation of this important and very large-scale national reform program. In providing such technical support GCMH is collaborating closely with relevant offices of MoLISA to assist in the achievement of the objectives set out in the document: The Project on Community-Based Social Assistance and Functional Rehabilitation for Mentally Ill People: 2011-2020 (Hanoi, February 2011). A major goal of this process is to encourage and enable coordinated and collaborative efforts by MoLISA and the MoH in the development of an integrated and comprehensive mental health system for Vietnam.
- The National Taskforce Project and the two new MoLISA-managed programs enables MoH and MoLISA to collaboratively develop and implement an integrated mental health system. If done well, Vietnam is well positioned to become a global leader in successfully designing and implementing a truly inter-sectoral mental health care system that is led in partnership by the two key Ministries. Establishing such a process involves considerable complexity, coordination and sensitivities.
 In 2010, Prime Ministerial Decision 32/2010/QD-TTg was announced, to develop social work as a profession and to train 60,000 social work staff, including social workers and officials, by 2020.
 In 2011, Prime Ministerial Decision 1215/QD-Ttg Project, Community-Based Assistance and Functional Rehabilitation for Mental Ill and Mentally Disordered Project, 2011-2020 (“1215 Project”) was announced. This project sets out an ambitious program of national reform and development of community based functional rehabilitation and social support services for PWMDs in Vietnam, and makes available substantial funds from the state budget to implement this reform.