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Help at hand for mental disorder

By Liu Zhihua  (China Daily)

10:10, June 28, 2012

Schizophrenia is thought to affect about 10 million people in China, says professor Jiang Kaida, at the Shanghai Mental Health Center, and executive director of Shanghai Mental Disorders Clinical Center.

Jiang says schizophrenia ranks third among all mental disorders in terms of disease burden (impact of a health problem measured by financial cost, mortality, morbidity, among other indicators), following depression and mental problems caused by alcohol addiction.

Ministry of Health statistics suggest mental health problems comprise 20 percent of the nation's total disease burden.

"The incidence rate of schizophrenia has dropped a little in the past 10 years, from 0.66 percent to 0.63 percent, but the situation is still very tough," Jiang says.

Schizophrenia is a long-term mental health problem, which involves a breakdown in thought, emotion and behavior.

Patients usually have faulty perception, disorganized speech and thinking, and will act inappropriately.

Since the mechanism of the disease is not clearly understood, diagnosis is usually based on observed behavior and a patient's reported experiences, rather than on solid pathological evidence.

As such, treatment generally tackles the symptoms rather than the causes.

Currently, just 35 percent of counties have public or private medical institutes that provide treatment for mental health disorders, and in rural areas the situation is even worse, says Yan Jun, director of the Mental Health Office with the Disease Prevention and Control Bureau of the Ministry of Health.

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