xi's moments
Home | Education

Proposal suggests big data, regular assessments used for psychological screening

By WANG XIAOYU | China Daily | Updated: 2024-04-18 09:21

During a visit to a middle school targeting troubled youths in February, Zhang Zhiyong, a national political adviser, got to see firsthand how a healthy education environment that promotes communication and all-around development plays a fundamental role in supporting the mental well-being of students.

"A variety of extracurricular books were available all over the campus, and music was deployed as an important tool to soothe students and give them a sense of security and control," said Zhang, director of Beijing Normal University's National Education Survey Center and a member of the standing committee of the Central Committee of the China Association for Promoting Democracy.

The Ugly Duckling School, located in suburban Kunming, the provincial capital of Yunnan province, is named after the Danish fairy tale character who grew from being an "ugly duck" into a "beautiful swan". Since it was established in 2011, the school has received nearly 3,000 teenage runaways, dropouts and students who have not been able to fit in at regular schools due to emotional issues.

"The school puts great emphasis on nutrition, sleep and exercise, and about one-third of courses are carried out outdoors," said Zhang. "Meanwhile, each student there joins in at least two club activities to help them explore and find self-worth."

Zhang has incorporated his front-line observations into a proposal submitted by the China Association for Promoting Democracy to this year's recent two sessions — the largest annual political event in China — as psychological and behavioral problems, as well as mental illnesses have affected an increasing number of youngsters in recent years.

Data released by the National Health Commission shows that about 17.5 percent of children and adolescents in China have mental disorders.

Zhang said that rapid socioeconomic development has made some youngsters less motivated and at a loss for what their purpose is in life. The widespread use of the internet and mobile phones has also reduced their real-life interactions.

"The education system that is solely oriented toward academic grades and acceptance into top colleges has peaked pressure on students and led to severe anxieties among them," he said, adding that limited social interactions during the COVID-19 pandemic have also impacted their mental health.

To tackle worsening mental health problems among the younger generation, the proposal submitted by the China Association for Promoting Democracy said that big data and other advanced technologies can be used to provide smarter and more efficient platforms for mental health services, and think tanks, psychology committees and associations should be mobilized to provide professional and high-level services.

In the meantime, an online drive aimed at spotting students at high risk of mental disorders should be set up so that early warning signs can be promptly detected and forwarded to relevant authorities to handle.

The proposal also calls for carrying out regular assessments of teenagers' mental health, integrating mental health education into school teaching and stepping up the development of pediatric psychiatry departments at hospitals.

"Guidelines should also be formulated from the perspectives of schools, families, healthcare institutions and psychological counseling service providers to eliminate any blind spots," it said.

The proposal emphasizes building a healthy education environment for teenagers.

For instance, local authorities should crack down on irregular actions at school such as giving extra academic courses that take up students' sleep and resting hours.

More efforts should be made to engage school students in off-campus activities and to encourage their exposure to other aspects of society.

Advocacy campaigns should also be launched to eliminate discrimination against mental health patients, the proposal said.

Global Edition
Copyright 1995 - . All rights reserved. The content (including but not limited to text, photo, multimedia information, etc) published in this site belongs to China Daily Information Co (CDIC). Without written authorization from CDIC, such content shall not be republished or used in any form. Note: Browsers with 1024*768 or higher resolution are suggested for this site.
License for publishing multimedia online 0108263

Registration Number: 130349