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Stay Calm over Students' State of Mind

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Psychology experts have called for a more rational attitude towards the mental health of China's "depressed" college students.

Monday marks the 10th National College Students' Mental Health Day, which aims to raise awareness of the pressure placed on young people's shoulders.

But Lu Shizhen, president of the youth development academy at the China Youth University of Political Sciences, has urged the public not to exaggerate the situation at the nation's universities.

"Chinese college students do have many mental problems in the face of an increasingly competitive society," she told China Daily on Sunday. "But I don't think there are many students with clinical depression."

She was speaking in response to a recent survey by the Beijing Anding Hospital that showed, out of 100,000 student respondents, 23.6 percent said they suffered a major depressive disorder.

"Almost every social group is facing pressure, and college students are not taking any more pressure than others," she said. "The public should take the issue more rationally and not exaggerate it."

The shocking survey, produced by the hospital's depression treatment center, took in young people at 16 universities in the capital and also showed 37.9 percent of those who have suspended their schooling and 64.4 percent of those who quit cited a mental problem as the major reason.

The hospital refused to give China Daily any further details.

"We already know there are some problems with the figure so I cannot tell you any more," a worker from the administrative office, who asked not to be named, said last Friday.

Tang Denghua, a psychology professor at Peking University, said it was "impossible" such a high proportion of students got depression, while Zhang Ping, a psychological consultant at Beijing University of Posts and Communications, added: "Clinical depression has different levels and I don't know how the survey defines it."

Meanwhile, according to the website for the Beijing municipal health bureau, the number of Chinese students with serious psychological problems has seen a rapid growth in recent years, with conditions including obsessive compulsive disorder, clinical depression, anxiety and hostility.

(China Daily May 25, 2009)