China to Step Up Fight against Depression and Alzheimer's Disease
China's health authority on Sept 11 unveiled an action plan for depression prevention and treatment, particularly among vulnerable groups including adolescents, pregnant women, seniors and those with high-stress jobs.
The action plan required secondary schools and universities to launch mandatory mental health courses in a bid to spread depression prevention knowledge among young people, according to the National Health Commission.
Such knowledge and screenings for mental health issues should be included in prenatal and postpartum care programs, the action plan said, asking family members to help pregnant women take care of their mental health. It also urged mental health care facilities to provide guidance to primary-level medical centers and family doctors on depression prevention among the elderly.
The action plan set a target whereby depression prevention knowledge will have been popularized among 80% of the general population and 85% of students by 2022. The commission also urged measures to attain a 50% rise in the proportion of depression patients getting professional medical help by 2022. An epidemiological survey in 2019 showed that around 16.6% of Chinese people suffered from mental health disorders of some kind.
In a separate development, Chinese health authorities will screen elderly communities for Alzheimer's disease (AD) and provide interventions that may prevent or slow the progression of the disease.
Community-level healthcare institutions will conduct cognitive-function assessments on the elderly within their jurisdictions, while nursing homes will carry out assessments on their own residents, according to a plan issued by the National Health Commission.
Those who are suspected of AD will be advised to seek medical attention at higher-level hospitals, according to the plan, with the screening due to cover 80 percent of the elderly aged 65 and above in every residential community and village.
The plan also requires treatment for AD patients at community-level healthcare institutions with the help of medical consortiums.