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Chongqing to increase mental health facilities

By TAN YINGZI in Chongqing | China Daily | Updated: 2024-01-11 10:00
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All universities and 95 percent of middle and primary schools in Chongqing will have mental health service centers by 2025 as the southwestern municipality of over 32 million people steps up efforts to improve public mental wellness, according to a recent government plan.

Facing heavy academic pressure, high parental expectations and heated peer competition, a growing number of Chinese students are bothered with various mental problems, which has raised an alarm.

The three-year plan says that Chongqing will launch construction of a comprehensive mental health service system to combine the strengths of related government departments, society and families.

By 2025, all districts and counties in the city will have mental health service centers and there will be six psychiatric physicians for every 100,000 permanent residents.

Chongqing will also establish a psychological crisis intervention working mechanism for emergencies as well as a designated hotline that will provide psychological counseling services around the clock.

"In the past decade, the Chinese government has been paying a lot of attention to public mental health as more and more Chinese people are facing increasing pressure in the fast-developing society," said Yang Fahui, director of the mental health research and training center at Southwest University, one of the top schools in China in the field of psychology.

The World Health Organization estimates 54 million people in China experience depression and about 41 million have anxiety disorders. The 2022 National Depression Blue Book pointed out that the prevalence of depression among teenagers in China has reached 15 to 20 percent, which is close to that of adults.

China passed its first mental health law in 2012, which called for more facilities, an increase in mental health professionals and more awareness.

In April, the education ministry, along with 17 other departments, jointly issued an action plan for improving students' mental health.

"Most schools and families in Chinese cities have already realized the importance of mental health of the students and taken related measures, so we need to pay more attention to the students in rural areas," Yang said.

He added that the lack of professional mental health workers, a standardized treatment guide for school mental service centers and a regional supervision system are some of the pressing issues needing to be addressed.

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