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Doctors stress need of mental health care
( 2001-06-13 11:30 ) ()

World Health Organization (WHO) officials joined local doctors in Shanghai in stressing the growing need for mental health care as the number of people with disorders grows.

WHO officials have also called for government support in mental health care around the world.

"Governments at all levels, communities and hospitals are responsible for promoting mental health care," said Shiregu Omi, director of the West-Pacific region of WHO in a recent visit to Shanghai.

According to statistics from the World Health Organization (WHO), about 400 million people today suffer from mental or neurological disorders, or from psycho-social problems, around the world.

WHO named this year "World Mental Health Year," making improved care for mental health patients top priority.

"Forty out of 1,000 Shanghai citizens are estimated to suffer from some sort of mental disorder. In total there are estimated about 50,000 people with mental problems," said Zhang Minyuan, a professor in the Shanghai Mental Health Centre.

Local experts also pointed out that the number was increasing due to the changing social environment.

Legislators said China's first local mental health legislation was under preparation and was waiting for approval in the city. To date, China has not mapped out any regulations or legislation to do with mental health.

Doctors in Shanghai have been working to treat and prevent mental disorder for several decades. The Shanghai Mental Health Centre started doing joint research and treatment with WHO and foreign institutions early in 1982.

Organizations and structures have now been set up to deal with the problem in hospitals, communities and within families.

So far, 42 mental health institutions have been built in Shanghai with 10,496 beds for patients. The registered 1,121 psychiatrists provide consultation and therapy for patients and their families in hospitals, in the community and at people's own homes. All medical staff are now educated in mental illnesses.



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