Why China Leads the World in Mental Illness By He Qinglian

Mental patients line up to get their meal at the Anxian Mental Hospital on Aug. 24, 2008 in Anxian County of Sichuan Province, China. (China Photos/Getty Images)

The Guangzhou-based weekly newspaper Southern Weekend recently published an article titled “Serious ‘Political Mental Illness’ Shows the Harsh Political Environment in China.”

The main point of the article is that the huge mental pressure on Chinese government officials is leading to widespread mental illness among officials.

This problem is especially serious for officials in positions related to relocation and demolition, the petition office, and other supervisory agencies. These officials are widely exposed to the dark side of society, which leads to extremely bad mental health conditions.

In May 30, 2010, the state-run magazine Outlook Weekly published an article titled “Research Shows More Than 100 Million People Suffer From Mental Illness in China, With 16 Million Serious Cases.”

This article was published soon after Foxconn announced that those who committed suicide at Foxconn factories in China suffered from mental illness. The article talked about the types of mental illness suffered by people in China and the causes. Looking at the Southern Weekend and Outlook Weekly articles together, one can see the facts.

First, the number of people in China diagnosed with mental illness is at a record high judged by any measure. According to official statistics, there are 1.4 billion people in China. More than 100 million suffer from a mental illness, which is 1/14 or greater of the total population. No other country in the world has gotten close to this number in the past 100 years.

Second, members of all the social classes in China can suffer from mental illness. The Southern Weekend article shows that officials suffer from mental illness due to the problems with the political environment.

The Outlook Weekly article mainly concentrates on the lower class. The article said: “Due to high medical expenses, combined with years or decades of depletion, many families have no money left. Even those with coverage can’t pay for the cost to enter the hospital and the supplemental costs, but most don’t even have coverage.” This basically translates into a new trend in China: Being poor equates to having a mental illness.

The two articles pointed out a common problem: The huge pressure during a transition causes social pressure. The pressure on the poor comes from basic living needs, such as a job, living expenses, medical costs, education, and the costs of various forms of unfair treatment.

The pressure on officials comes from the abnormality within the political party. Officials bribe each other to get promoted; political success relies on connections instead of performance. The values of officials are distorted. They are not allowed to act out of conscience and morality but instead must protect the interests of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and twist themselves to adapt to the corrupt system.

For example, officials involved in relocation and demolition must have hearts as cold as steel. They cannot feel sorrow for throwing people out of their homes and have to view people committing suicide as “obstructing official orders.”

The situations in other departments are about the same. The petition office must face the endless streams of petitioners suffering from injustice. Supervisory departments have to ignore the corrupt acts of officials daily. The members of the accounting department have to close their eyes to fake accounts.

In this world where everything is turned upside down, with the constant blending of right and wrong plus the loss of morality, it’s hard to imagine the lives of the common Chinese people.

When I was still in China, a prosecutor who was my friend told me he was disgusted and tired of his job because he dealt with cases for corrupt officials every day. Some people who look good from the outside are so dark on the inside. After a while, he started to doubt everyone.

I work in media, and I was very furious for not being able to expose the dark facts about society. However, the darkness of 10 years ago is so much less dark than that of today. Many people in the mainland tell me that society today is 10 times darker than what I wrote about in my book “China’s Pitfalls.”

Living in such a dark society is guaranteed to increase the number of people with mental illness.

When the majority of citizens in a country are under such huge pressure, with so many with mental illness, then the living conditions in the country must be seriously wrong.

The government should improve the environment to reduce the pressure on common citizens. The Chinese regime, however, doesn’t do anything to reduce the pressure. Instead, it follows the butcher Stalin, regards anyone with a different view as having mental illness, and then politically persecutes those said to have mental illness.

In May, Outlook Weekly wrote about this. It reported that due to the lack of mental hospitals, the law enforcement agencies would be in charge of young patients with mental illness. Dissidents and those with different views are to be treated as though they have mental disorders.

These cases are not decided by doctors but by CCP organizations. The local CCP organizations identify the cases and send them straight to law enforcement. These methods are very similar to those implemented by Stalin in Russia.

At this point, I think readers should understand who turned China into the world’s leader in mental illness. I also understand the reason so many Chinese people immigrate to other countries: to live a normal life.

He Qinglian is a prominent Chinese author and economist. Currently based in the United States, she authored “China’s Pitfalls,” which concerns corruption in China’s economic reform of the 1990s, and “The Fog of Censorship: Media Control in China,” which addresses the manipulation and restriction of the press. She writes regularly on contemporary Chinese social and economic issues.

Read the original Chinese article.



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