Asylum caretakers work 10 hours a day and still can't meet the need of mentally ill population

Source:Global Times Published: 2017/1/22 17:53:39

Most of the patients Bao Hehua and Yu Shousong care for can't eat, dress or bathe by themselves. Photo: CFP

Most of the patients Bao Hehua and Yu Shousong care for can't eat, dress or bathe by themselves. Photo: CFP

Bao and Yu live in the same room as the patients. Photo: CFP

Bao and Yu live in the same room as the patients. Photo: CFP

Some of the patients pose danger to others, so the doctors and caretakers need to lock the doors behind themselves.  Photo: CFP

Some of the patients pose danger to others, so the doctors and caretakers need to lock the doors behind themselves. Photo: CFP



A nurse in an asylum in Nanjing, East China's Jiangsu Province cleans the face of a patient  who's confined to the bed. Photo: CFP

A nurse in an asylum in Nanjing, East China's Jiangsu Province cleans the face of a patient who's confined to the bed. Photo: CFP

Yu feeds a patient while Bao cleans. Photo: CFP

Yu feeds a patient while Bao cleans. Photo: CFP



"He went  crazy all of a sudden and started beating me with his fists, so I had to hide in the bathroom, while he banged on the door," said 57-year-old Bao Hehua. She still remembers that night with horror, saying she could've died on the post.

Bao and her husband, Yu Shousong, work in an asylum in Guangzhou, South China's Guangdong Province. There are 16 caretakers in total and 200 patients, all of whom have mental diseases. The caretakers work more than 10 hours a day and get paid approximately 2,000 yuan ($290) a month.

Bao and Yu have been working in this asylum for 20 years. They live and eat with the patients, take care of them and feed them medicine. Some patients hide the pills under their tongues and spit them out after the caretakers are gone, so Bao has to inspect  the patients carefully. She also has to help bathe, dress and feed some patients who have lost the ability to take care of themselves.

Mental health has become a prominent issue in China. In 2009, the World Health Organization said that about 7 percent of China's 1.38 billion population have some sort of mental diseases, which is roughly 84 million people.

However, the medical situation in China is rather dire. There aren't enough medical resources. For example, in Guangzhou, there are only about 10,000 such caretakers, 555 registered doctors, while there are about 50,000 people with heavy mental diseases. Furthermore, many aren't even sent to asylums or getting professional treatment. Many mentally ill patients are being locked up at home, live on the streets or are still undiagnosed and untreated. 

 
Newspaper headline: Caring for the forgotten


Posted in: IN-DEPTH

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