BEIJING — China will improve community health services for people living with severe mental illness, which number 5.81 million according to official records.
An inter-ministry conference has been held to address the issue.
Wang Bin, an official at the National Health and Family Planning Commission, said that according to latest available surveys, China only had about 31,000 licensed psychiatrists and 2,900 mental institutions.
The imbalance has prompted the government to create policies helping mental patients be cared for at home and in communities. Last year, a government circular demanded that community health services be provided to mental patients in most cities and counties by 2025.
By then, 60 percent of patients will be able to stay at home, instead of in mental institutions, and be taken care of by community health workers, according to the circular.
“China has a large number of mental patients, many of whom lose their abilities and are mired in poverty,” said Gao Xiaobing, vice minister at the Ministry of Civil Affairs, who attended the conference.
“It is important to help them recover the ability to live independently and reacquire social skills through community services,” she said.
Gao asked local governments to increase spending to improve the community services for mental patients and find ways to help them not just recover but to find jobs.