fredag 22. april 2022

Covid forces China to face mental health crisis a long time in the making

Since the Covid lockdown in Shanghai began, Hu Bojun has received numerous inquiries about her and her hospital’s counselling services. This month, the US-educated clinical psychologist began facilitating lockdown support groups – in English and Chinese – to clients from “all walks of life”.

“Even people from different socio-economic sectors are now attending [counselling] together … My old clients have been coming back, and there are a lot more new clients as well,” she says, adding that a lot more Chinese people have begun talking to her about their mental stress and loneliness in a time of extreme uncertainty.

Mental health support is now a much sought-after service in China with more than 400 million citizens estimated to be under some degree of lockdown. Chinese search engine Baidu last week recorded a huge spike in searches for “psychological counselling” since March.

Although Covid has dominated news headlines in the past two years, mental illness is another crisis that is changing the lives of millions of Chinese families. Fifty-four million people in China experience depression and about 41 million suffer from anxiety disorders, according to the WHO. These are two of the most prevalent mental disorders in the country.