China launches national platform for mental health services

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In December 2023, the Ministry of Civil Affairs, the National Health Commission, and the China Disabled Persons’ Federation jointly introduced a new policy titled “Management Measures for the Sharing and Referral of Resources for Community Rehabilitation Services for Mental Disorders.”

This groundbreaking initiative aims to tackle challenges within China’s mental health care system, specifically addressing the recurring hospitalizations of mentally ill patients caused by a deficiency in rehabilitation services within their local communities.

A crucial aspect of these measures involves the establishment of a unified national platform for sharing information about patients with mental disorders and facilitating community rehabilitation referrals.

Anchored in a comprehensive database, this platform enables local governments at or above the county level to share crucial data concerning patients with severe mental-illness and certified mentally-disabled individuals. The information is vital for assessing and quantifying the demand for community rehabilitation services, which will be addressed through government procurement.

While acknowledging the significant strides made in China’s mental health community rehabilitation services, the measures underscore the need for an enhanced integration of resources and a streamlined referral mechanism.

The designed referral service mechanism incorporates detailed processes, from application and initial registration to comprehensive assessment, service provision, stage evaluation, and eventual case closure with follow-up.

This initiative is expected to usher in a new era of improved mental health care, offering community rehabilitation services for conditions like depression and autism. The timely response to evolving mental health needs represents a positive step towards fostering a supportive and comprehensive mental health ecosystem.