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Boost to student mental health
Updated: 2004-11-05 08:51

The number of psychology counselors at Shanghai schools is to increase in the next few years to provide better services to teachers and students, the Shanghai Education Commission said yesterday.

Of the 240 sessions of professional training every elementary school teacher receives each year, between 20 and 30 will now focus on psychological crisis prevention and intervention.

The commission has also launched a new headmaster training program, instructing 1,000 headmasters on how to incorporate mental health education into the daily curriculum of their students.

"We hope every local elementary school teacher can become a psychological counselor who can help students solve hidden mental problems," said Zou Hong, vice director at the commission's moral education division.

Commission officials did not reveal how soon they planned to finish the training program. But a student mental crisis intervention system would be set up in conjunction with schools and parental groups by 2010, officials said.

Local universities are also required to have at least one psychological counselor for every 3,000 students within the next three years, officials said.

An average of 8,000 local university students share a single campus counselor at the moment, according to Ye Bin, vice director at Shanghai Psychological Counseling Association of Higher Learning.

"Students have an increasing demand for psychological services and we urgently need to expand resources to provide better services," Ye said.

The increase in services follows a survey earlier this year found about 0.5 percent of university students suffer some form of psychological problems.

The same survey found 12 percent of primary school teachers suffer from psychological problems that require counseling.

Most of the new positions will be filled by professional counselors who already offer students telephone and online consultations as well as face-to-face consultations.

Teachers working as counselors will require a license by the end of the year. They will be required to take about 400 training sessions and pass an exam before starting as counselors.

The commission also plans to increase funding for university psychological counseling services from less than five yuan (60 US cents) per student to 10 yuan, officials said.

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