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China pledges to scale up efforts in depression prevention

Xinhua | Updated: 2020-09-11 15:03
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BEIJING — China's health authority on Friday unveiled an action plan for depression prevention and treatment, particularly among vulnerable groups including adolescents, pregnant women, seniors and those with high-stress jobs.

The action plan required secondary schools and universities to launch mandatory mental health courses in a bid to spread depression prevention knowledge among young people, according to the National Health Commission.

Such knowledge and screenings for mental health issues should be included in prenatal and postpartum care programs, the action plan said, asking family members to help pregnant women take care of their mental health.

It also urged mental health care facilities to provide guidance to primary-level medical centers and family doctors on depression prevention among the elderly.

The action plan set a target whereby depression prevention knowledge will have been popularized among 80 percent of the general population and 85 percent of students by 2022.

The commission also urged measures to attain a 50-percent rise in the proportion of depression patients getting professional medical help by 2022.

An epidemiological survey in 2019 showed that around 16.6 percent of Chinese people suffered from mental health disorders of some kind.

Heath experts particularly warned of the adverse impact of the COVID-19 epidemic on people's mental health. "Statistics showed that around 9.7 percent of adolescents were afflicted by post-traumatic stress disorder six months after the Wenchuan earthquake [in 2008], as were around 10 percent of SARS patients two years after the epidemic," said Lu Lin, president of Peking University Sixth Hospital, a leading mental health care facility.

Lu called for continuous early intervention measures in mental illness prevention during and after the COVID-19 epidemic.

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