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More Help for Troubled Students

The growing number of suicide cases on campuses due to mental problems has drawn the attention of the government and public.

Statistics show that 15 college students in Beijing committed suicide in 2005, and 19 in 2004.

To tackle the problem, Beijing introduced a mental crisis interference scheme on Friday, coinciding with the city's College Students Mental Health Day.

The scheme urges all colleges in the capital to conduct mental health checks among undergraduates at least once a year.

An assessment of a student's mental health is kept on file in some colleges in Beijing, and those with psychological problems receive regular checks.

Mental health day was first introduced by about 12 Beijing universities in 2000, and now May 25 is dedicated to the illness across the country.

A survey released last year showed that more than 25 percent of college students have thought about suicide at least once.

The survey, conducted by the Social Survey Institute of China, covered more than 1,000 college students in eight major cities including Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.

Problems about study, relationships and self-development were the most common affecting the students, said Nie Zhenwei, a professor with the psychological counseling center of Beijing Normal University.

"As most college students were born in the 1980s, they come under increasing pressure from families in today's modern society," Nie said.

The university's psychological counseling center receives visitors from Monday to Friday.

Today, an increasing number of students are consulting mental health counsellors, Nie said.

Local educational authorities have also instructed all colleges in Beijing to introduce mental health education this year.

Peking University introduced the subject in 2004 for all freshman in its "How to adapt yourself to college life" program.

A psychological counseling hotline has been available since 2003 manned by professors and senior students from the Department of Psychology.

Freshman Xiao Li said he felt comforted on hearing the words "Can I help you", on the hotline.

" I get support from the hotline and have built up my self-confidence," he said.

(China Daily May 26, 2007)

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