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Training village doctors

Mental health in China

There is a huge gap in healthcare services for men, women, boys and girls with mental illness and epilepsy in China. A recent report indicates that 173 million people in China have a mental disorder and 9 million have epilepsy, with a treatment gap of over 60%. Lack of access to treatment services, coupled with stigma and exclusion from social and economic activity, has resulted in people with mental illness and epilepsy and their families experiencing severe isolation and poverty.

Our work

We began operating in China in 2011 and since then over 3,400 people with mental illness or epilepsy, their carers and family members have been through our programme.

Our holistic mental health and development services are delivered through:

BasicNeeds China

BasicNeeds China initiated exploratory work in China in 2010 – 2011 at the invitation of the Ministry of Health, completed a pilot project in Shunping County under Baoding Municipality and based on the success of the pilot, is currently expanding BasicNeeds’ mental health services and livelihoods activities in all 10 townships of Shunping County.  We work with a close support of local partners who regularly report progress to the central Ministry of Health. This Shunping project has created partnerships, systems, training programmes and a health care structure and has already reached 2,775 people are benefitting from its medical, social and livelihoods activities. We are now in a fortunate position of being able to embed the BasicNeeds mental health programme within the government’s national health system, thereby ushering in a new and sustainable phase of our work in China.

Yunshu“It is my honour to be the BasicNeeds China Programme Manager. The fact that BasicNeeds not only provides opportunities for treatment but also livelihoods support and encourages self-help groups for sustainable recovery is what drew me to this role in 2015. During the regular mental health clinics we conduct in Shunping County, patients come to us and tell us of how grateful they are for the support they receive from BasicNeeds. The local government has also given us immense support and is enthusiastic about our work in the region. Mental health is now getting more attention in China and I am sure that over the years our project in China can benefit more people in need.” Dr Yunshu Zhang, Programme Manager of BasicNeeds China.

Recent Projects:

Training village doctors in mental health

In January 2016, 47 village doctors in Puyang and Yaoshan Towns were trained to recognize mental illness symptoms in order to provide appropriate community mental health services. Information sheets were distributed and the mental health centre in Hebei Hospital introduced a hotline service offering counselling services. After the training, the village doctors distributed mental health related information to villagers. They also conducted screenings and followed up with select patients.

Piloting revolving loans for SHGs in Shunping County

With an eye to future sustainability after external funding ends, we are piloting revolving micro loans for income generating activities within Self-Help Groups (SHGs) of people recovering from mental illness and/or epilepsy and their carers. This is funded by the Blackford Trust. The pilot SHG have decided to use their first loan on growing crops to sell in the local market as their first income generating activity.

Our impact to date

As of December 2016, 3,488 people including those affected by mental illnesses, their carers and family members have been supported through our programme in China.

Contact information

BasicNeeds China
C/O Hebei 6th Hospital
No.572 Dongfeng
East Rd, Baoding
Hebei Province 071000

Contact person: Dr. Yunshu Zhang, BasicNeeds China Programme Manager
Tel no.: +86 0312-7557045

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