Exploring perceptions of mental health clients and professionals about Buddhism-based therapies at mental health hospitals in Vietnam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

With 80% of Vietnamese people holding key Buddhist beliefs, Buddhism has great impact on the thoughts, emotions, and behavior of Vietnamese people. However, almost no Buddhism-based psychosocial interventions are offered at formal psychiatric hospitals across Vietnam, nor is there any plan to incorporate these interventions into mental health care. This exploratory study examines the perceptions of mental health clients and staff regarding the effectiveness of Buddhism-based therapies (BBTs) in mental health treatment in Vietnam, using ethnographic observation and in-depth interviews with 24 patients and eight professionals at the only psychiatric hospital employing BBT. Participants strongly believed in the positive impact of BBT to help clients manage or improve their symptoms. However, clients and staff advised that BBT should not be used alone; rather it should be used in combination with medication and was best employed for stress-related disorders. They unanimously supported incorporating BBT into the formal mental health system, especially if the therapies were well developed through collaboration between Buddhist monastics and mental health professionals. Results of the paper suggest that Vietnam should think strategically about developing and incorporating BBT into the formal mental health care system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)94-107
Number of pages14
JournalAsian Social Work and Policy Review
Volume12
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by the University of South Carolina’s Provost Office through Social Science Research and Visiting Scholar Grants.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 John Wiley & Sons Australia, Ltd

Keywords

  • Buddhism
  • mental health
  • social work
  • therapy
  • Vietnam

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