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Inappropriate coping strategies may be key factors that have contributed to a consistently high prevalence of stress and mental disorders that have been reported worldwide, particularly in resource-limited countries. Thus, one aim of this paper is to estimate the prevalence of these inconstructive strategies, and explore more positive coping strategies through observation of undergraduate medical students in Vietnam. The methodology that has been employed for this project has been a cross-sectional analysis that was conducted on 411 first year medical students at the University of Medicine and Pharmacy in the cities of Ho Chi Minh and Can Tho who have shown signs of stress indicative of low mental well-being—that being a WHO-5 score of 13 or under or an answer of 0 to 1 to any of the five items of a WHO-5 mental disagnstic test. Participants completed a self-report questionnaire including a depression anxiety stress scale and a coping strategies inventory scale. The results show a prevalence of depression, anxiety, and stress that were identified in 51.6%, 70.3% and 49.9% of students respectively. Problem solving was impacted mostly by the failure of coping strategies, and subsequent failures in cognitive restructuring. Students who had mental disorders were more likely to engage in negative coping strategies such as self-criticism, and were less likely to choose positive coping strategies such as expressions of emotion and problem solving. Medical students face a wide range of stressful situations, and the findings of these particular students suggest that there is a failure of coping strategies to overcome these stressful occurences. The findings indicate an urgent need to develop stress management programs and training workshops to build up early preventive mental health services at medical schools and to improve student support systems.
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