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Mental illness affecting people at younger ages
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09:01, October 12, 2007

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People in the southern city of Guangzhou appear to be suffering mental problems at ever younger ages as they struggle to adapt to life outside the home and school, a source with the local health authority said.

There are currently 43,803 registered cases of mental illness in the city. Up to 40 percent of them are between 16 and 25 years old, according to the Guangzhou health bureau.

"A decade ago, most people with mental illnesses were between 18 and 30 years old. But now they are five years younger," Zhao Zhenghuan, director of the Guangzhou Brain Hospital, said.

Zhao attributed the situation to young people's "relatively poor social adaptability."

"Children from single-child families receive a lot of care at home and school, but when they leave home and school, they find it hard to adapt to life. They easily develop mental problems such as anxiety and depression," Zhao said.

Pan Jiyang, a psychologist with the first Affiliated Hospital of Jinan University in Guangzhou, yesterday called for "early treatment and mental education" for teenagers who are mentally ill.

Not seeking help

Pan said some 80 percent of people who suffer from mental illness do not seek help after their conditions are diagnosed.

"Delayed treatment at the early stage will lead to more serious conditions. Most parents just cannot believe their kids have developed mental problems," Pan said, adding that young mental patients could attempt suicide or commit crimes if they are not treated well.

In one case, a 21-year-old student believed to be suffering from a mental illness stabbed six of his classmates at an IT college in Zhuhai, Guangdong Province, last month.

To better cope with the situation, the Guangzhou Teenager Service Center, a psychological treatment center affiliated to the Guangzhou Communist Youth League, has employed eight psychological experts.

The experts will work with people suffering from mental illness through a hotline (12355).

Meanwhile, nearly 100 psychologists will soon be deployed in communities, schools and work units to promote mental health among young people.

Source: China Daily

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