Tests on students aim for less stress

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 17 February, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 17 February, 2004, 12:00am

But the scheme to improve mental health on campus does have critics

The Ministry of Education will require selected universities to carry out psychological tests of new students in a pilot scheme aimed at improving the mental health of the mainland's university population.

The scheme, reported by the China Youth Daily on Sunday, is expected to begin in September.

Educators said the scheme was launched in response to the growing problem of stress among university students on the mainland.

'Nearly 80 per cent of colleges in Beijing have already set up psychological counselling clinics,' said Zhao Shaoyi, a doctor with the Beijing-based Dong Ming Counselling service.

Fan Fumin, a psychologist with Tsinghua University in Beijing, said in her experience, worries over studies, love and finding a job were the biggest causes of psychological problems among students.

'The level of care is insufficient. There is currently only one psychologist for every 2,000 to 3,000 college students,' Ms Fan added.

Liu Ming, a psychologist with the China Association for Mental Health, applauded the scheme but warned: 'The test should be standardised and the results must be confidential.'

Others have criticised it for eroding students' civil liberties and for treating the symptoms and not the root cause of the problem.

'I would refuse to take the test if I could. The testing would be an infringement of my privacy,' said Zhao Danfeng, a college student from Harbin.

Many feel that students start to feel pressured long before they enrol in university.

Zheng Richang, a Beijing Normal University professor, said: 'From primary school to university, all Chinese students are pressured. Not only do they have to pass a lot of examinations, but their schools and families are too strict with them.'

The Nanjing Zhonghua Secondary School in Jiangsu province has announced that in September it will open a 'relief room' where students can vent their frustrations on punching bags and rubber mannequins. But professor Zheng believes such measures are not a permanent cure.

'The only way to lessen the pressure on students is to reduce the school work, criticism and blame piled upon them as well as to change the non-democratic atmosphere of the campus,' he said.

Additional reporting by Alice Yan