Patients suffering from mental illnesses are set to receive better care in accordance with a new 2011-20 Government scheme valued at nearly 8.4 trillion VND (400 million USD).

Around 90 percent of mental patients, especially those prone to violence and those made homeless, are expected to receive treatment at rehabilitation centres, according to new incentives also aimed at raising common awareness on mental health problems.

Under the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MoLISA), three large-scale centres for mentally disabled patients are planned to be set up in the north, south and centre of the country alongside an additional 20 smaller centres to add to the 20 existing ones.

"The centres will help meet the needs of mental patients throughout the country," said Nguyen Xuan Hoi, deputy head of MoLISA's Department of Social Protection.

The centres were expected to help mental patients, many of whom are refused entry to established mental institutions, re-integrate into society focussing on both mental and physical aspects of management and recovery, Hoi said.

At least 10 pilot models are set to be implemented along with the development of new centres, rolled out according to demand and success.

Social and health care workers are also to receive improved training in order to better assist mental patients.

At present, around 7,700 communes have implemented training courses with assistance from qualified doctors, said La Duc Cuong, Director of the National Psychiatric Hospital No 1 in Son Tay, Hanoi .

"Rehabilitation has proved very effective. While around 33 provinces have psychiatric treatment centres, however, there are still not nearly enough," Cuong said.

Cuong's hospital is one of only two national hospitals in the country, the other situated in southern Dong Nai province.

While there were currently around 600 patients receiving treatment at the National Psychiatric Hospital No 1, the hospital had been trying to lower its number of inpatients to focus on outpatients instead. Last year, on average, each inpatient underwent two-months of treatment, which has been reduced to 48 days during the first six months of the year, Cuong said.

Though the hospital had sufficient equipment for diagnosis, it still required more for rehabilitation purposes, the doctor added, saying that, as a result, the hospital has called on the Ministry of Health to invest in its new five - year development plan./.