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Thursday 27th October 2016

Mental distress in China

11th October 2006
Mental illness troubles more than 30 million young Chinese, yet their mental health care is often neglected in families and by society. Health authorities are highlighting the issue around World Mental Health Day 2006, on Oct. 10.

Zheng Yi, a paediatrician and mental health specialist at Anding Hospital in Beijing said that tens of millions of children under the age of 17 are bothered by emotional and behavioral problems as a result of mental illness, and that Chinese parents were more likely to address their children's material needs than their emotional ones.

Statistics from the Ministry of Health show that there are fewer than 50 doctors in China who specialize in paediatric mental illness. If doctors who work part-time in the field are counted, the number rises to less than 100.

There are about 370 million children in China. A recent Internet survey on juvenile mental health carried on an official juvenile education website showed that only 10 percent of juvenile respondents would choose to seek help from a doctor if they suffered mental stress.

The health department in the northern province of Hebei found 14 adults out of 100 in the province suffered from various forms of mental distress, including depression, phobias, alcohol abuse and anorexia.

Mental health experts say mental health care in China lacks sufficient funding to carry out mass mental health education and psychological consultations. For example, the Beijing municipal government's annual budget for mental health care is just 0.1 yuan (about 1 U.S. cent ) per person.

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