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Development and challenges of mental health in China
  1. Jianyu Que,
  2. Lin Lu and
  3. Le Shi
  1. Peking University Sixth Hospital, Peking University Institute of Mental Health, NHC Key Laboratory of Mental Health (Peking University), National Clinical Research Center for Mental Disorders (Peking University Sixth Hospital), Peking University, Beijing, China
  1. Correspondence to Professor Lin Lu; linlu{at}bjmu.edu.cn

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With the socioeconomic development and the acceleration of the ageing process of the population, the incidence rates of mental disorders and psycho-behavioural problems have become higher and higher worldwide. So far, the disease burden caused by mental disorders has ranked second in the world.1 In China, the disease burden caused by mental disorders accounts for 13% of all non-communicable diseases burden.2 Hence, mental health has become a major public health problem and social problem. In order to promote mental health, the Chinese government has promulgated a series of policies and regulations, as well as reform measures. Moreover, the upcoming ‘China Brain Project’ will also focus on some mental disorders such as autism, depression and dementia to improve mental health research in China.

Current status of mental health in China

Mental health services

High prevalence of mental disorders and low consultation rate

The epidemiological survey conducted in four provinces in China showed that the prevalence of mental disorders among adults in China was 17.5%, in which the prevalence of mood disorders (mainly depression), anxiety disorders and substance use disorders were 6.1%, 5.6% and 5.9%, respectively.3 According to the WHO report, the recognition rate of global mental disorders is around 50%, and the recognition rate in China is far below the world average. Taking depression as an example, the recognition rate of depression was only 21% in Shanghai, China. In addition, the rate of diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders is also relatively low, with an average of only around 150 people per 100 000 people receiving treatment for serious mental disorders. The treatment rate for serious mental disorders in high-income countries is about 17 times that of low-income countries.4

High proportion of refractory mental disorders and poor medications response

The effectiveness of medications treating mental disorders varies among patients. For example, when one patient with schizophrenia treated with aripiprazole gains improvement, about four patients cannot benefit from the same medication. When duloxetine is effective in treating …

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