Men­tal health ser­vices im­proved

China Daily (Canada) - - SHANGHAI - By WANG HONGYI in Shang­hai wanghongyi@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Shang­hai is ac­cel­er­at­ing its pace in re­vis­ing cur­rent men­tal health reg­u­la­tion, high­lighted by the con­struc­tion of a com­pre­hen­sive men­tal health ser­vice sys­tem for the city of more than 20 mil­lion pop­u­la­tion.

Cur­rent men­tal health reg­u­la­tions were of­fi­cially re­leased by the mu­nic­i­pal­ity in 2001 and have played an im­por­tant role in the de­vel­op­ment of the men­tal health sec­tor na­tion­wide.

Since China’s Men­tal Health Law took ef­fect in May 2013, Shang­hai has been re­vis­ing its lo­cal reg­u­la­tion to meet the grow­ing de­mand for men­tal health ser­vices driven by the rapid de­vel­op­ment of the so­ci­ety and the econ­omy.

“The re­vised ver­sion has clear state­ments on the re­quire­ments of the men­tal health ser­vice sys­tem, cov­er­ing all the is­sues in­volved, from men­tal health ed­u­ca­tion and preven­tion to di­ag­no­sis and treat­ment,” said Chen Hongzhuan, vice-pres­i­dent of Shang­hai Jiao Tong Univer­sity Med­i­cal School, who helped with the re­vi­sion.

The re­vised ver­sion spells out the roles of dif­fer­ent com­po­nents of the sys­tem, such as med­i­cal in­sti­tu­tions, spe­cial­ized hos­pi­tals, psy­cho­log­i­cal coun­sel­ing and care cen­ters. There are also spe­cial re­quire­ments for the qual­i­fi­ca­tions of peo­ple work­ing in the sec­tor, Chen said at the Har­vardChina Fog­a­rty Con­fer­ence on Men­tal Health Ser­vices in China held in Shang­hai this week.

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re­vised ver­sion has clear state­ments on the re­quire­ments of the men­tal health ser­vice sys­tem, cov­er­ing all the is­sues in­volved, from men­tal health ed­u­ca­tion and preven­tion to di­ag­no­sis and treat­ment.” CHEN HONGZHUAN VICE-PRES­I­DENT OF SHANG­HAI JIAO TONG UNIVER­SITY MED­I­CAL SCHOOL

The con­fer­ence was part of the Har­vard-China Fog­a­rty Pro­gram, which was launched in 2012 to im­prove the coun­try’s men­tal health ser­vices.

The five-year train­ing pro­gram fo­cuses on build­ing re­search ca­pac­ity and im­prov­ing men­tal health among all age groups in China. It is spon­sored by the Fog­a­rty In­ter­na­tional Cen­ter of the US Na­tional In­sti­tutes of Health, and jointly ini­ti­ated by the depart­ment of global health and so­cial medicine of Har­vard Med­i­cal School, the Shang­hai Men­tal Health Cen­ter and the Pek­ing Univer­sity In­sti­tute of Men­tal Health.

Un­der the pro­gram, pro­fes­sion­als from th­ese three in­sti­tu­tions will pro­vide train­ing for re­searchers, doc­toral-level stu­dents and post-doc­toral fel­lows from Shang­hai and Beijing. It will also pro­vide train­ing for clin­i­cal psy­chi­a­trists from other ar­eas of the coun­try.

“The coun­try has seen a huge de­mand for men­tal health ser­vices and there are very limited re­sources to meet it. The level of men­tal health ser­vice in big ci­ties like Beijing and Shang­hai is rel­a­tively high. But in many other ar­eas, the level is still very low,” Chen said, adding that the pro­gram helps im­prove the med­i­cal staff ’s ex­per­tise level, es­pe­cially those in re­mote ar­eas.

China’s of­fi­cial fig­ures show that about 16 mil­lion peo­ple in China suf­fer from se­vere men­tal ill­nesses.

In Shang­hai, there are 113,000 peo­ple suf­fer­ing from se­vere men­tal ill­nesses regis­tered with lo­cal health de­part­ments. The city has 24 men­tal health spe­cial­ized med­i­cal in­sti­tu­tions with more than 13,000 beds, ac­cord­ing to the city’s health depart­ment.

A pi­lot pro­gram in­te­grat­ing men­tal health ser­vices into pri­mary care is un­der­way in Shang­hai’s Changn­ing dis­trict.

“Cur­rently, chronic dis­ease man­age­ment, such as di­a­betes and hyper­ten­sion, is han­dled by com­mu­nity-based med­i­cal ser­vices. But when a pa­tient goes for treat­ment, their mood and men­tal health con­di­tion are of­ten over­looked,” said He Yan­ling, pro­fes­sor of psy­chi­a­try at Shang­hai Men­tal Health Cen­ter, who runs the pi­lot pro­gram.

She said that the men­tal prob­lems of th­ese pa­tients, such as anx­i­ety and de­pres­sion, should be given more at­ten­tion.

He and her team have been work­ing to es­tab­lish an on­line man­age­ment plat­form to pro­vide long-term, on-go­ing ser­vice for th­ese groups through reg­u­lar men­tal health mon­i­tor­ing, follow-up and man­age­ment.

In ad­di­tion to strength­en­ing the train­ing of med­i­cal staff, He also em­pha­sized the im­por­tance of pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion.

“Many pa­tients are re­luc­tant to ad­mit they have men­tal prob­lems and refuse any ser­vice. So it’s im­por­tant to im­prove their aware­ness of men­tal health,” she said.

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