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Foundation Cares for College Students' Mental Health
In an upcoming drive to comprehensively help poverty-ridden college students, a non-profit Chinese organization plans to focus on their mental health.

At a news conference organized in Beijing Tuesday by the China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation, He Daofeng, secretary-general of the organization, said that the project, which starts on Sept. 1, will focus on the mental health of financially-disadvantaged students.

Statistics show that at the end of 2001, China had 13 million college students, of which 2.6 million were poverty-ridden students, whose monthly financial aid from their families or other sources was less than 150 yuan (about US$18).

A survey conducted in 20 colleges show that the monthly income for financially-disadvantaged students was even less than 60 yuan (about US$7) in some extreme cases.

Malnutrition and sickness increased psychological pressures and placed mental barriers against participating in public activities, leaving them on the fringes of school life with a sense of uncertainty about the future.

Zhang Minxuan, an expert from Shanghai Teachers University, said that economic poverty can be resolved with prompt aid. "Mental poverty, however, may affect one's lifelong development if it is not properly tackled," he said.

To solve the problem, the foundation plans to collect funds from individual donors in order to financially support activities to help students who have psychological problems, he said.

Each beneficiary could gain a yearly assistance to a maximum of 2,000 yuan (US$241) for two to four years, he said.

To have a thorough understanding about the conditions of students suffering from poverty, the foundation is recruiting 100 volunteers to contact the families of these students, mostly in China's underdeveloped regions.

The foundation proposes to set up charitable societies in major universities so that any individual donor will find basic information about needy college students on the foundation's official website.

The financial aid is expected to foster the sense of social responsibilities and self-esteem and self-confidence of the recipients, Zhang said.

(Xinhua News Agency August 7, 2002)

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