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Mental Health Literacy of University Students in Vietnam and Cambodia

Anja Dessauvagie1, Hoang-Minh Dang2, Tuyet Truong3, Thu Nguyen4, Bich Hong Nguyen5, Huong Cao6, Socheata Kim7, Gunter Groen1,*

1 Hamburg University of Applied Sciences, Department of Social Work, Hamburg, Germany
2 VNU University of Education, Center for Research, Information and Service in Psychology (CRISP), Hanoi, Vietnam
3 Thai Nguyen University of Agriculture and Forestry, Advanced Education Programs Office, Thai Nguyen City, Vietnam
4 VNU-HCM University of Social Sciences and Humanities, Faculty of Education, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
5 Thai Nguyen University of Economics and Business Administration, Faculty of Economics, Thai Nguyen City, Vietnam
6 Vinh University of Technology Education, Department of Scientific Management and International Partnerships, Vinh City, Vietnam
7 Paragon International University, Department of Business Administration, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

* Corresponding Author: Gunter Groen. Email: email

International Journal of Mental Health Promotion 2022, 24(3), 439-456.


Mental health literacy (MHL) refers to knowledge and attitudes that shape the recognition, management, and prevention of mental disorders. While the topic has been exhaustively researched in Western countries, research from Southeast Asia still is limited. Previous studies in this field showed a moderate recognition of mental disorders, a high prevalence of stigmatizing attitudes and a low willingness to seek professional help among Southeastern-Asian populations. This study explored the level of MHL among university students from different parts of Vietnam and Cambodia. Correlations with influencing factors (gender, age, study year, educational attainment of the parents, urban/rural origin, ethnicity, personal experiences with mental disorders) were also explored. An online survey, using a 30-item Vietnamese version of the Mental Health Literacy Scale (MHLS), was conducted at six university sites in Vietnam and Cambodia. Data of 1032 students from different study branches were included. The MHL of Vietnamese and Cambodian university students was lower, compared to samples from Australia or the UK. Females and students with a personal experience of mental disorders (self or family) showed a significantly higher MHL. No differences in MHL were found between students from different socioeconomic backgrounds (professional attainment of parents, urban/rural origin). Findings on the influence of ethnicity were inconclusive. MHL needs to be improved among the university students of Vietnam and Cambodia. Mental health promotion should specifically target male students, students from STEM branches, and international students.


Cite This Article

Dessauvagie, A., Dang, H., Truong, T., Nguyen, T., Nguyen, B. H. et al. (2022). Mental Health Literacy of University Students in Vietnam and Cambodia. International Journal of Mental Health Promotion, 24(3), 439–456.

cc This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License , which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
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