You are falling short of your 'crazy quota', Zhengzhou officials warned

Zhengzhou administrative divisions failed to hit mental illness reporting targets

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 10 October, 2013, 12:14pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 10 October, 2013, 5:22pm

A provincial capital in central China has informed its administrative divisions that they have failed to fulfil their quotas for reporting cases of mentally ill residents.

A document leaked from the Department of Health of Zhengzhou, the capital of China’s third most populous province Henan, showed that sub-districts were required to report at least two cases of grave mental illness for every 1,000 residents.

“The requirement is too high”, Huang Linlin, a health worker at the Linke sub-district, told Southern Metropolis Daily. “We have registered 12 patients at the moment. According to the requirements, our target is 71.”

Linke is part of the Jinshui district, which has been tasked to identify 2,023 mentally ill people among its one million residents.

The sub-district’s struggle to find enough mentally ill residents reflects a push to improve psychiatric healthcare after the introduction of China’s first mental health law in May.

The law requires all full-service hospitals to set up psychiatric departments in an effort to make up for previous disregard for mental health services. The law also ended involuntary treatment of mentally ill patients.

The order to identify and register those with severe mental illness follows a national directive from the Ministry of Health from July last year, which stipulates the number of cases each province, city and county-level administration had to report or face administrative penalties.

The quota has been raised from 0.25 per cent last year to 0.3 per cent this year. By 2015, 0.5 per cent of China’s population should be registered as mentally ill, according to the directive.

The requirement is well below estimates published in a 2011 study by the Ministry of Health, according to which almost eight per cent of China’s population live with some form of mental illness. A large-scale independent study in 2009 put the national average at 17.5 per cent.