Shenzhen looking to lead the field

Updated: 2016-09-26 08:17

By Tang Yue(China Daily)

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The national average of psychiatric hospital beds for every 10,000 residents is 1.71, but in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, the number is just is 0.58. Now, that is set to change.

At the start of the reform and opening-up policy, Shenzhen was chosen as the site of China's first special economic zone. Now, the country's fourth-largest city in terms of gross domestic product is in the vanguard once again, leading efforts to absorb the experiences of mental health professionals and treatment overseas.

In July, the city government hosted a group of mental health social workers from New York, and last year, police officers from Melbourne, Australia, who are experienced in the field, were invited to share their experiences with their counterparts in Shenzhen.

In recent years, the city government has also introduced Assertive Community Treatment, a client-centered, recovery-oriented treatment model that originated in North America.

So far, 321 people have been classified as ACT cases, and they are supported by a team of mental health professionals, including psychiatrists and social workers.

"Just leaving hospital is far from a full recovery for most patients. They need even more attention afterward," said Deng Xiuliang, a psychiatrist at Bao'an District Mental Health Center in Shenzhen.

"Many patients will need to take medication for the rest of their lives, but some just stop when they feel better. We take the initiative to make sure they receive the best treatment and understanding for their needs."

Meanwhile, the city is building Jianning Hospital, Shenzhen's second psychiatric unit, said Liu Tiebang, president of Kangning Hospital, the city's only dedicated mental health facility.

The new hospital, which will provide 800 beds, is expected to be completed in 2018.

"The city does need more psychiatric beds, but I am not sure if this is the best way of achieving that goal," Liu said.

"The patients may have to travel a long way to the hospital, so it would probably be better to distribute resources across different districts and improve cooperation with the community services."