Academic journal article Journal of Counseling and Development : JCD

The Trajectory of Counseling in China: Past, Present, and Future Trends

Academic journal article Journal of Counseling and Development : JCD

The Trajectory of Counseling in China: Past, Present, and Future Trends

Article excerpt

Boasting a booming economy and having showcased itself to the world as the host of the 2008 Olympic Games, China is poised to become one of the most powerful nations in the world. Signs of economic progress abound in the massive urban centers. As part of this rapid economic and social change, the Chinese people are experiencing significant multiple stressors. At the World Mental Health Day held in Beijing on October 2, 2006, Zhou Dongfeng, president of the Chinese Society of Psychiatry, revealed that at least 100 million of China's 1.3 billion people have various mental disorders, such as schizophrenia, bipolar depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and social phobias. According to one report, mental illness accounts for 20% of the total patients in hospitals, making it the most widespread disease in China (Fei, 2006).

Although the worldwide average rate for suicide is 14 per 10,000, the suicide rate in China is approximately 20 to 30 per 10,000. In urban areas, where the signs of economic progress are most obvious, suicide is often committed by jumping from high-rise buildings or into rivers, whereas in rural areas, suicide is often committed by ingesting pesticides or other poisons. According to gender, the suicide rate is higher among Chinese women than among Chinese men. Suicide is the leading cause of death for Chinese individuals between the ages of 15 and 34 (Ji, Kleinman, & Becker, 2001; Liu, 2003). Xinhua news agency reported that approximately 10% of 340 million youth under the age of 17 experience mental and/or behavioral problems such as anxiety, depression, alcoholism, and criminal activity (Radio Free Asia, 2004). During Chinese Vice Health Minister Zhu Qingsheng's address at the 13th World Mental Health Day, he expressed concern that the "problems with mental health have threatened the development of China's human resources" (Radio Free Asia, 2004, para. 2). In addition to these mental illness concerns, there are many other reasons for the Chinese to seek psychological help; among the most common are mental distress, school-related problems, financial worries, family/relationship difficulties and "anxiety about adapting to the changing demands of the marketplace" (Chang, Tong, Shi, & Zeng, 2005, p. 106). Extramarital affairs continue to be common, and now, with economic progress and social change, divorce has become easier and the rate has been rising.

The Cultural Revolution of 1966-1977 was a watershed era. Using it as a benchmark of the Chinese people currently alive, one can divide the Chinese into three different generations: (a) those who were born before the Cultural Revolution and who were directly traumatized by this movement, (b) those who are children of the Cultural Revolution and who may face secondary trauma, and (c) those who are in the generation born after the Cultural Revolution who were spared the trauma of this revolution but face the pressures of modernization and economic prosperity. Each one of these generations faces different challenges to their mental health and may exhibit different levels of openness to psychological services.

* Past Trends

Because of China's centuries-long history of collectivism, the Chinese family and its expanded network have been a bastion against mental health problems. As is typical of collectivistic cultures, problems have traditionally been handled within the family itself, not in public (e.g., family members consulting their elders rather than someone unknown to the family). Because of conservative social norms and a desire to retain economic resources in the family, divorce was frowned on. Furthermore, the China Revised Marital Law in 2001 made divorce difficult to obtain (Huang, 2005). The result was that families tended to be more externally intact, and resources from the extended family were relied on whenever there was a crisis in a family. Although there are positives to such an approach to life, there is also a negative side: There tends to be shame and social stigma linked to mental health problems. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.