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China: Slipping through the cracks
A recent study estimates that more than 170 million Chinese suffer from a mental disorder.
Last Modified: 01 Feb 2012 09:28

A recent study estimated that roughly 173 million Chinese suffer from a mental disorder. But very few are receiving care, with mental health desperately short of financing, practitioners and esteem.

In 2010, several attacks near schoolyards left 21 people dead. According to news reports, half of the attackers had earlier appeared deranged or suicidal, but Wen Jiabao, the Chinese prime minister, said only that China needed to resolve "social tensions" underlying the attacks.

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Only one in 12 Chinese needing psychiatric care ever see a professional. China has little insurance coverage for psychiatric care, almost no care in rural communities, too few inpatient beds and a weak government mental health bureaucracy.

Most Chinese psychiatrists lack a university degree in any subject, much less mental health, while chronic shortages of doctors and facilities is leading families to either lock up or abandon mentally ill relatives.

The government has pledged to invest more in mental healthcare, pouring billions of dollars into new and renovated psychiatric hospitals, many of which are old and purposely located far from cities.

Meanwhile, mental disorders are rising rapidly. Although some of the increase is from greater awareness and reporting, local experts argue that stress-disorders have shot up as Chinese society changes too fast for people to adapt.

 
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Source:
Al Jazeera
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