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Transformations in Treatment of Mental Illness in China
AuthorMcClatchey, Michael P.
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AbstractIn China, as in most societies around the world, once someone is diagnosed as mentally ill it becomes very difficult for that person to find a place in society, or even their own families. In China, much of this lack of understanding and stigma of mental illness comes from a long history of societal norms in which those with a mental illness were to be looked after by the family and generally out of public view. This allowed the national governments of China to ignore providing care for the mentally ill as they could rely on the family to keep them out of trouble. With the beginning of the twentieth century, as China modernized and its population became more urban it would become clear that relying on the family was no longer enough. This embarked China on a long road to improving all aspects of care for the mentally ill. Beginning with local officials building hospitals in various cities early in the twentieth century leading to national conferences of psychiatrists designed to determine what areas needed improvement, and currently national laws and plans being enacted to continue furthering mental health care; many in China both at the national and local levels have worked hard to improve both the care and lives of the mentally ill. Still, there are many areas that can be improved upon most important being the need to lessen the stigma still associated with mental illness amongst many Chinese. This paper focuses on the history of mental health care starting in the twentieth century to the present, the current national programs and laws currently in effect, as well as the current problems still facing mental health care like stigma still associated with mental illness today in China.