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Far More Chinese Have Mental Illness Than Previously Thought

June 16, 2009

The burden of mental illness in China has been seriously underestimated, the authors of a new study say. More than 17 percent of Chinese adults have a mental disorder, the study concluded — far more than the 1 to 9 percent reported in studies done between 1982 and 2004…. To do the study, published in the journal Lancet last week, researchers at Columbia University and major psychiatric hospitals in Beijing, Shandong, Zhejiang, Qinghai and Gansu screened 63,000 adults with questionnaires, and psychiatrists interviewed more than 16,000 of them, often in local dialects….The most disturbing aspect of their research, the authors said, was that, among those who had a diagnosable mental illness, 24 percent said they were moderately or severely disabled by it. But only 8 percent had ever sought professional help, and only 5 percent had ever seen a mental health professional.

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