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Ministry Plans More Support for Mental Health Services

China's Ministry of Public Health is planning to train more qualified psychology therapists and set up more professional psychology clinics in the country's major hospitals to give proper treatment to the increasing number of psychologically disturbed Chinese.

World Health Organization's statistics show that psychological diseases have replaced respiratory, cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases and cancer to be the biggest threat to the health of Chinese people.

Statistics released by Ministry of Public Health in 1998 showed 5 percent of Chinese were suffering from varying degrees of psychiatric, psychological disturbance, while 13 in every thousand Chinese suffered from neurotic illnesses. In addition 20 to 30 percent of students in middle school and university had psychological problems.

Experts say that the high incidence of psychiatric and psychological diseases can be attributed to excessive pressure from work and study, the fast pace of life and complicated human relations.

Li Xintian, professor with the Institute of the Psychological Research of Chinese Academy of Sciences said that anxiety, depression and phobias are the major causes of mental disorders among Chinese who go to see psychological doctors.

Since 1995 more Chinese with psychological illnesses, especially those who lived in big cities, have realized the importance of psychological treatment and have started to seek help at psychology clinics.

Zhao Xudong, a medical practitioner and head of the No. 1 hospital attached to Kunming medical faculty, opened China's first professional psychological clinic in 1994.

Zhao said that he treats more than 20,000 patients annually and uses different types of psychotherapies such as consultation, hypnotism, and physiological image pattern analysis.

It is quite possible to cure patients who suffer anxiety or depression if the treatment is given properly, he added.

However, statistics show that China only has 200 to 300 professional psychological therapists, far fewer than needed.

To meet the demand, the Health Ministry has urged all the city hospitals across the country to set up psychological services and demanded all the country's major hospitals to open a psychological section.

In addition, the Ministry of Labor and Social Security and Ministry of Personnel have jointly entrusted experts to draw up examination and registration regulations for psychological therapists so as to standardize the country's psychotherapy section.

The regulations, to be issued in the near future, require psychological personnel to have more professional knowledge to guarantee their service quality.

International forums on psychological therapy are frequently held in the major large cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Kunming, Harbin and Chengdu. They aim to promote cooperation between China's psychologists and their overseas counterparts.

Ji Jianlin, professor with the medical college of Shanghai Fudan University, said that how to apply the advanced Western psychological therapeutic theories in the treatment of Chinese patients who are from a traditional Oriental culture and method of thinking is becoming a big challenge for Chinese psychological therapists.

(People's Daily January 14, 2002)

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