Mental health of Chinese youth shows troubling trends

15:11, May 20, 2010      

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With at least 30 million Chinese youth below 17 suffering from various types of emotional and behavioral disorders, the mental health of China's children is a cause for national concern, according to a news conference for the 19th World Congress of the International Association for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Allied Professions (IACAPAP) held in Beijing on May 19.

The rate of behavioral problems for Chinese children has continued to rise. In Beijing, the rate was a little more than 8 percent in 1984 and almost 13 percent in 1993. The rate for some primary school students in Beijing's Zhongguancun area was more than 18 percent in 2002.

Statistical data over the past five years shows that the average rate of behavioral problems in children across China stands between 14 percent and 20 percent. The mental behavioral problems facing children of migrant workers, children from single-parent families or one-child families are more serious. Internet addiction, drug use and crimes involving children and adolescents have become global issues of public concern.

Zheng Yi, director of the Pediatric Department of Beijing Anding Hospital, said as mental diseases in children are hard to detect and diagnose, only 20 percent of children and adolescents around the world have received proper diagnosis and treatment. The situation is more severe in China because the development of the pediatric mental health sector is restricted by various factors such as poor infrastructure in mental health institutions.

For instance, in Jiangsu province, there are only 12 full-time pediatric psychiatrists who work at the Children's Mental Health Research Center under the Nanjing Brain Hospital. Mental health education in China's primary and middle schools is characterized by a low level of professionalism and a lack of actual effectiveness. Furthermore, common people and medical personnel who are not specialized in psychiatry have low awareness of mental health, said Zheng.

By People's Daily Online


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