Zhao Xin spends most of his spare time online, playing video games or aimlessly surfing the Internet. He is not a huge fan of the online world, but it takes his mind off the depression that has consumed his life in recent years.
"I have been very depressed and I don't know how to pull myself out of it. I don't want to talk to anyone. Playing games online diverts my mind from it for a while, but afterwards the depression takes over again," said Zhao Xin (not his real name), a Shanghai college student who was diagnosed with mild depression earlier this year and now receives regular treatment.
Zhao was depressed for two years without help before a counselor at his college advised him to seek treatment.
His story is not uncommon. A recent survey conducted in Shanghai found 44 percent of respondents would not seek help when dealing with mental health issues. For people under 20, the Internet is a common escape.
The survey, conducted by Shanghai Health Promotion Committee, included more than 3,500 city residents aged between 15 and 70. A total of 20 percent said they suffer from depression and feel helpless to do anything about it.
According to Wu Xiaoyu, an official from the Shanghai Health Promotion Committee, "many young people fail to recognize mental health problems and escape the turbulence in their lives through the Internet and video games."
Less than 44 percent of participants had any knowledge of mental health issues, and 75 percent were unable to recognize signs of a mental health problem. And less than 5 percent of people surveyed said they would seek psychological help from the community, professional health body or social organization. Family and work colleagues instead were cited as the most common sources to turn to for help.
Wu said a social support system should be established to meet the growing demand for mental health services.
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