One woman's fight to improve mental health care in China

Tackling mental health problems in China
Tackling mental health problems in China

    JUST WATCHED

    Tackling mental health problems in China

MUST WATCH

Tackling mental health problems in China 00:49

Story highlights

  • Meng Weina set up first private special needs school in China
  • From the first center in Guangzhou there are now Hui Ling operations in a dozen Chinese cities
  • Only one in ten people with mental health issues receives care, suggests Weina
In 1985, Meng Weina set up China's first private special needs school in the southern city of Guangzhou.
As a single mother she was motivated to help those who are often overlooked by the country's health care system and stigmatized by society.
From her first center in Guangzhou, Weina now has Hui Ling operations in a dozen cities across China providing a range of services, from kindergartens and primary schools to youth workshops and adult residential homes.
The expansion of the donation-funded NGO shows not just the success of the Weina's vision but the desperate need for mental health care provision in China.
"We estimate that only 10% of people with intellectual disabilities in China are receiving some kind of care or help," said Weina.
Hope for children in Sri Lanka
Hope for children in Sri Lanka

    JUST WATCHED

    Hope for children in Sri Lanka

MUST WATCH

Hope for children in Sri Lanka 00:49
Refugee fights for rights in Hong Kong
Refugee fights for rights in Hong Kong

    JUST WATCHED

    Refugee fights for rights in Hong Kong

MUST WATCH

Refugee fights for rights in Hong Kong 00:58
The Dynamic Teen Project
The Dynamic Teen Project

    JUST WATCHED

    The Dynamic Teen Project

MUST WATCH

The Dynamic Teen Project 00:58
According to a 2009 study published in British medical journal The Lancet, around 173 million Chinese suffer from a mental disorder. However there are only 20,000 psychiatrists, equaling 1.5 for each 100,000 people, or a tenth of the ratio in the United States.
Mental health legislation
Last year saw the introduction of China's first mental health legislation, which took a reported 27 years to pass.
Among the changes from the law are new financing initiatives for mental health services and training for primary care-givers. Perhaps the most significant was a new set of rights for patients, including not being hospitalized against their will.
Negative perceptions of those with metal health problems are often portrayed in the media in China; they are either victims or perpetrators of violence.
Weina knows that each individual that comes to a Hui Ling center has their own set of needs and unique personality, and helping bring out their best encourages her to keep working.
"I wanted to do something to make my life worth while," said Weina.
"When I see the smiles on their faces, when I see that these adults are truly happy to be at Hui Ling, that for me is the happiest moment."