Huang Yueqin, the director of the National Centre for Mental Health, has said that 100 million people, or 7% of the population, suffer from some degree of mental illness, yet only 5% of those afflicted are aware they have a problem. From The Telegraph:
Mental illness has now overtaken heart disease and cancer as the biggest burden on the Chinese health system, according to the World Health Organisation, affecting seven per cent of the population.
The definition of mental illness is broad, and a large proportion of Chinese suffer from relatively minor conditions such as anxiety, depression, drug addiction and obsessive-compulsive disorder. However, Dr Huang estimated that only five per cent of sufferers are aware of their condition and try to seek treatment.
The Chinese government has only recently recognised the scale of the problem. “The government did not pay much attention to the public’s mental health over the past 50 years, and did not invest much in treatment or care,” said Dr Huang.
“However, the current five-year plan (for 2007-2012) has included mental illness treatment as a major field of research, which is a big step forward,” she added.
See also “Beijing expands psychiatric facilities” from China Daily.