Addressing Mental Health in China

April 30, 2020

This comprehensive guide outlines how companies can be aware of how access, cost, coverage, stigma and other challenges vary in different markets, and highlights company strategies, country snapshots and resources that may be useful as they implement their programs around the world.

This section covers information about mental health stigma, access and treatment, and provides recommendations for employers and resources on NGOs/National Campaigns in China.

There is a severe shortage of mental health professionals in China. A look at the numbers:

  • 4x: Concentration of psychiatrists is four times lower than the global average.
  • 100 patients: Anecdotal reports say that psychiatrists see up to 100 patients per day; they use assistants to write prescriptions while they move quickly from person to person, spending little time with a minimal amount of privacy.14
  • Regional impacts: Resources in the country are uneven. In general, the eastern and central regions are more developed and account for 40%-50% of all medical care in the country. The western regions of the country lack sufficient health care,15 including mental health treatment. Huge needs in the treatment of the mentally ill have led to an increase of unregistered and inadequately trained psychologists who are unable to provide proper diagnosis and treatment to the patients.16
    As a result, an estimated 90% of people with mental health disorders have never sought treatment,17 and some do get worse instead of better.16


Stigma surrounding mental health conditions is extremely high in China. For some, this stigma creates fear of getting help even when treatment is available.14

  • Some think that people with psychiatric conditions are possessed by evil spirits.
  • Many see mental disorders as a sign of weakness.18
  • Many regard them as socially contagious:18
  • A relative of someone with a serious disorder may find it hard to marry.18
mental hospital beds

Mental hospital beds: 24.29 per 100,000 population.

health care workers 

Total mental health workers: 8.75 per 100,000 population.

yes check

National health insurance or reimbursement scheme includes the care and treatment of persons with major mental disorders (defined as psychosis, bipolar disorder, depression)

No check

No government-adopted or national policy for suicide prevention strategy.

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Even many medical students worry that those working with psychiatric patients risk catching their disease.

Xu Ni, It Gets Brighter

The government has put some policies and programs in place to address mental health issues in recent years.19

  • Legislation: First mental health law in 2013.13
  • Law only allows hospitalization against an individual’s will if that person is a danger to themselves or others.19

Addressing Mental Health in China

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