CASES of mental illness have increased 300 per cent in the past two decades, while more than 16 per cent of university students are reported to suffer psychological problems. Research carried out by a secondary school teacher found that psychological problems were widespread across the mainland and urgent efforts were needed to address the problem. Shen Donghua found many people failed to adapt to the drastic urbanisation and industrialisation resulting from 20 years of economic reforms. They often came under extreme pressure when forced to cope with various crises. The report cited a recent survey carried out by authorities in 12 provinces which found cases of mental illness had jumped from 3.2 per 1,000 in the 1970s to 12.7 per thousand in the 1990s. Further research on 5,000 pupils in 34 secondary schools found 15.7 per cent suffered psychological problems. A similar study on university students found 16 per cent suffered psychological problems, including severe phobias, anxiety attacks, hypochondria, depression and emotional problems. Mr Shen, a Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference member of Zhejiang province, said therapy should be considered a vital part of the country's social development plan. 'Psychological problems exist in every age group. Hence, redress work should be carried out deep into families, schools, factories, government organs and even on the streets and alleys,' he said.