|China is now facing a soaring number of mental illness patients every year. (CNTV)|
China is now facing a soaring number of mental illness patients every year. In the past, people refused to talk about it. But now, more and more are aware of the importance of the issue.
Despite more transparency, mental health is still a sensitive topic in China. Patients are open to psychiatric care. Family members still feel the shame and discomfort though.
Many rejected our interview. Some didn't want their relatives to appear 'abnormal' on camera.
One family demanded CCTV not to use footage that was previously permitted for filming. None of this surprises Dr. Zheng Yi. He's deputy head of Beijing's oldest mental health hospital, where John Smith is receiving treatment.
Experts blame negative media reports for the fear of discrimination. Recent coverage linked a spate of violence to mental health patients. That deepened concerns of prejudice in Chinese society.
China now has to cope with 100 million mental health cases. That's about eight percent of its population. And some studies say that number could be higher--and growing.
Health experts say hospital wards will fill up rather quickly in the coming years as more cases of mental illnesses will be treated. This means more a bigger burden on both the government and private sector in terms of funding and education. So far, the Chinese Health Ministry has allotted about one million us dollars towards training mental health professionals.
Those funds can help expand a tiny mental health profession in China. The country has 1.5 psychiatrists and 2.2 nurses per 100,000 patients. The world average is 4 psychiatrists and 13 nurses per 100,000 patients.
"Now, we can used the advanced treatment method as in United States and in European countries," said Dr. Zheng.
Health experts say China is in dire need of rehabilitation centers for post-hospital care. They believe though education, early detection and intervention would save China from draining healthcare costs.
"I think in China, the people are lack of knowledge of mental health, especially the knowledge about the," said Dr. Guo Zhihua, psychiatrist at Beijing Anding Mental Health Hospital.
Dr. Guo says hospitals can only treat patients for a limited time. Incoming patients constantly push the previous ones out.
Medical experts say families will bear the burden of dealing with complicated mental illnesses. They hope that through Government support and public education, society will be more informed and discriminate less.