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Chinese mental health good overall, latest survey finds

By WANG XIAOYU | China Daily | Updated: 2021-03-03 08:50
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A report on Chinese people's mental health is released in Beijing on March 1, 2021. [Photo/Chinanews.com]

Most Chinese people's mental health either improved or remained the same last year, and the majority are confident it will improve over the next five years, according to a report released this week.

Experts said the rosy outlook is bolstered by increasingly convenient access to mental health services and the nation's swift response to potential psychological impacts from the COVID-19 epidemic.

The report, led by researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences' Institute of Psychology, was based on a nationwide survey last year that asked about 65,000 people to rate their mental health status.

Nearly 45 percent of respondents said their mental health either "improved significantly" or "improved a little" in 2020 compared with the previous year.

About 30 percent reported no changes in their mental health, and the remaining 25 percent said it worsened.

In addition, most participants signaled a positive outlook when asked to predict the near future, the report said.

About 68 percent said they believed their emotional state will fare better in the next five years, and nearly 19 percent said they expect no significant changes.

Less than 14 percent of respondents had a bleak view of their mental health in the coming years.

Chen Zhiyan, a professor at the Institute of Psychology who played a leading role in compiling the annual report, said accelerated efforts to ramp up mental health services have contributed to the brightening mental landscape.

"Our survey shows that the number of respondents who consider mental health services to be convenient rose from 26 percent in 2008 to between 38 and 42 percent in 2020, signaling that people are seeing more opportunities to learn about mental health and coping skills and are more likely to receive professional services when they need them," she said.

During the COVID-19 epidemic, the report said that some people-including infected patients, their family members and people visiting fever clinics or under home quarantine-experienced stress, panic and loneliness, among other negative reactions.

A variety of psychological interventions, from hotlines and online lectures to awareness campaigns, have been rolled out by officials and experts.

"Mental health service provisions initiated amid the epidemic have surpassed those put in place during past emergencies in terms of quantity, scope and overall competency," the report said.

However, survey results pointed to an uneven distribution of psychological services, which has resulted in a distinct gap in the prevalence of depression across regions.

For example, the results show that about 13.4 percent of people in affluent East China were at high risk of developing depression, compared with 20.6 percent in central China and 20.1 percent in western regions.

The report also drew attention to the mounting mental pressure confronting teenagers and young adults.

It is estimated that people age 18 to 34 are more prone to feelings of anxiety than older adults.

Shi Haisong, head of the mental health center at North China Electric Power University in Beijing, suggested more research into the living environments, values and psychological traits of the post-2000 generation to provide targeted and effective guidance.

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