Posts tagged ‘mental-health’


Mental Illness in China: Still a Stigma – Businessweek

Of the approximately 173 million people in China estimated to suffer from “a diagnosable psychiatric disorder,” only about 15 million have ever received medical treatment, according to a 2012 paper in the British medical journal Lancet. The country of 1.4 billion people has only about 20,000 psychiatrists, just 4,000 of whom are adequately trained and qualified, according to the journal.

Beijing Begins to Pay Attention to Mental Health Care

Awareness of mental health as a public health issue is still nascent in China, and great stigmas still attach to acknowledging that oneself—or a close family member—may suffer from depression, bipolar disorder, or another condition. At the same time, the massive changes associated with China’s rapid urbanization—including millions of children separated from parents who go to work at distant factories—adds enormous psychological strain, according to the journal.

In May 2013, China’s first law to safeguard the medical privacy of people seeking health for mental treatment went into effect. The law also prohibited involuntary treatment of mental illness without the consent of a guardian. In the past, Chinese political dissidents were sometimes labeled as “mentally ill” by authorities, who used this excuse to confine them; human rights activists say this practice has not been totally abolished. Still, despite its flawed enforcement, the American Journal of Psychiatry hailed the new law as “a high-water mark for Chinese psychiatry, and potentially for global mental health.”

via Mental Illness in China: Still a Stigma – Businessweek.


China Seeks Shorter, ‘More Portly’ Troops With Brainpower – Bloomberg

China’s military has relaxed its height, eyesight and weight requirements for soldiers in an effort to attract more educated personnel, the state-owned China Daily newspaper said today.

Male recruits can now be 1.6 meters tall (5 foot 2 inches), down from 1.62 meters, while the minimum height for women will reduced by the same margin to 1.58 meters, the paper said, citing the Ministry of Defense’s recruitment office. The upper weight limit for male enlistees was also relaxed to “allow more portly young men” into the military, it said.

Eyesight standards were also lowered because nearly 70 percent of high school and university students in China are short-sighted, it said. Mental illnesses including schizophrenia, dissociative disorder, depression and bipolar disorder has also been removed from a list of conditions barring candidates from enlisting, according to the paper.

The looser requirements come as President Xi Jinping tries to hone the world’s largest army by headcount into a professional fighting force capable of winning wars. Efforts by China’s military to attract better-educated recruits to match its modern weaponry has been hampered by a decline in the health of candidates. According to Beijing’s army recruitment office, some 60 percent of college students fail the physical fitness examination, with most graduates being overweight, the China Daily reported in August.

via China Seeks Shorter, ‘More Portly’ Troops With Brainpower – Bloomberg.


* China’s new mental health law to make it harder for authorities to silence petitioners

SCMP: “The director of Xinjiang‘s largest mental health institution has welcomed a new law, which went into effect on Wednesday, banning involuntary inpatient treatment for many people deemed mentally ill.


“Seventy to 80 per cent of the patients have been forcibly admitted to the hospital,” said Xu Xiangdong, director of the Fourth People’s Hospital in the regional capital Urumqi, the Yaxin online news portal reported on Monday.

“Because of this increased consideration for patients’ rights, [the figures] will change fundamentally,” he said, adding that it would put an end to frequent episodes of people being wrongfully declared mentally ill.

The new law, which has been debated for a quarter of a century, is meant to crack down on local authorities aiming to silence petitioners and troublemakers by arbitrarily declaring them mentally ill and locking them up in mental health wards.

Under the law, patients must first give their consent to being hospitalised, except in cases in which they could harm themselves or others.

If patients are still forcibly confined, they or their guardians have the right to seek a second opinion. Forced hospitalisations for reasons other than severe mental illness are banned.

Last week about 200 health practitioners from the region were sent to Xu’s hospital to be trained in the new provisions on patients’ rights stipulated by the new law, the Xinjiang Daily reported.

Two million people in Xinjiang live with mental disabilities, Xu estimated, amounting to more than 9 per cent of the population in the economic backwater of China’s remote northwest.

That compares with almost 8 per cent of China’s population diagnosed with some form of mental illness, according to the Ministry of Health in 2011. A largescale 2009 study estimated a much higher national average at 17.5 per cent.

In Xinjiang, authorities have not been able to provide adquate resources to deal with the increasing number of people living with mental disorders. Xu told the Yaxin portal in 2011 that the number of mentally ill patients had increased by 20 to 30 per cent annually over the last years.

In Monday’s report, he said less than 5 per cent of the two million mentally ill could receive treatment because of a lack of resources and trained staff.

Two years earlier, the regional government had reported plans to build 15 new mental hospitals and to expand current ones. Until now, only one additional hospital in Kashgar has been completed, the Yaxin report said.

In March, a gruesome murder of a seven-year-old Uygur boy by a Chinese man has caused tensions among ethnic communities in the Turpan prefecture east of Urumqi. The man had been declared mentally ill to prevent ethnic revenge attacks, locals told Radio Free Asia.”

via China’s new mental health law to make it harder for authorities to silence petitioners | South China Morning Post.


* China adopts mental health law to curb forced treatment

Reform and improvements keep coming.  Is it because of the decennial leadership change or is it due to genuine concern for the people; or maybe it’s a bit of both.

Reuters: “China adopted a law on Friday to protect for the first time the rights of the mentally ill after years of accusations that psychiatric hospitals are used to lock up people against their will and silence dissidents.

Human rights advocates called the hard-fought for law, which has been debated for more than two decades, significant, even though they say it still falls short of international standards as it allows for involuntary commitment without judicial review.

The law will “curb abuses regarding compulsory mental health treatment and protect citizens from undergoing unnecessary treatment or illegal hospitalization”, the Xinhua state news agency said.

“We welcome it because having a law is better than not having one,” Nicholas Bequelin, a researcher at Human Rights Watch, a New York-based advocacy group, told Reuters.

“The most important thing that this law does is it will allow civil society to step in to monitor and press for improvement in the management of mental health in China, including … pushing for greater transparency and progressive curtailment of police rights.”

Activists have long argued that authorities force people they consider troublemakers into psychiatric hospitals without providing any evidence of their supposed crimes.

The tactic has been used to silence dissidents, whistle-blowers and petitioners. More recently, it has been used by people against relatives during family disputes.

State media has reported on people being locked up in psychiatric hospitals against their will.

Chen Guoming, a former gold store owner, was forced into an asylum in 2011 by his wife and locked up for 56 days after refusing to lend money to his wife’s family, Xinhua said.

The new law bans mental health examinations of a citizen against his or her own will, Xinhua said.”

via China adopts mental health law to curb forced treatment | Reuters.

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* Indian Govt to pick up medical tab for poor

Times of India: “It’s raining sops for the poor. The government is making treatment of people below the poverty line suffering from mental disorders and diabetes free at government or public super speciality hospitals like AIIMS.

Yesterday, TOI had reported the government’s plan to gift cell phones to the poor.

In the maiden endorsement of India’s swelling burden of patients suffering from mental disorders, the ministry has included it under the Rashtriya Arogya Nidhi (RAN) — the scheme that till now provided financial assistance to only those BPL patients suffering from major life-threatening diseases like cancer.

All BPL patients suffering from mental disorders like depression, anxiety, adjustment and personality disorders will be given a free one-time grant of upto Rs 1 lakh for treatment.

In cases where the quantum of financial assistance is likely to exceed Rs 1.5 lakh, they will be referred to an expert committee headed by the DGHS for consideration.”

via Govt to pick up medical tab for poor – The Times of India.

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