A national strategy on mental health with orientations to develop a comprehensive caring system is needed for Vietnam as nearly 15 percent of the country’s population are suffering from different forms of mental illnesses with depression as the most common.

Deputy Minister of Health Nguyen Viet Tien made the statement at an August 4 workshop in Hanoi that looked into steps to design the national strategy on mental health for the 2015-2020 period, with a vision towards 2030.

In the country, one psychiatrist serves 100,000 residents, whereas the average rate in the world is 3/100,000, according to the Central Mental Health Hospital No.1.

Tien mentioned the shortage of medical staff and inter-sectoral coordination as major obstacles to the efficient care of mental patients.

He also stressed the need to further improve related healthcare services and build a competent legal system in the realm.

The number of people suffering from mental illnesses in Vietnam is on the rise due to the pressures of modern life.

However, Vietnam has only 34 mental health hospitals and centres, with 31 provinces without any centres specialising in such illnesses.

According to the World Health Organisation in 2012, more than 350 million people worldwide suffered from depression.

Mental disorders account for 14 percent of the global disease burden, of which 75 percent is reported in low- and medium-income countries.

The organisation has appealed for action from governments; social, multilateral, bilateral and private organisations; global partners; and research agencies to further improve mental health for the public.

It has recommended countries build strategies and regulations relating to the issue.-VNA