Recent high-profile cases highlight pressures faced by nation's children
National lawmakers and political advisers have stressed the importance of strengthening the psychological education of students in the wake of severe incidents caused by mental problems having increased in recent years.
They said schools, families, medical institutions and society as a whole should pay more attention to students' mental health as the COVID-19 epidemic and the prevalence of the internet have made children's mental problems more acute and begin at an earlier age.
Liu Yan, a member of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference and deputy head of Shanghai's Minhang district, said since the COVID-19 epidemic started, students' mental health has been impacted due to the change in their learning and living environment.
Home-schooling and hybrid learning have made peer-to-peer interaction and cooperation more difficult, and the influx of internet information has also made it hard for them to tell correct from wrong information, she told ThePaper.cn.
The lack of outdoor exercise has led to a decline in their physical health and students have faced greater academic pressure due to difficulty adjusting to online learning, she said.
In the post-epidemic era, schools should strengthen moral education, guide students to return to the real world from the virtual online world, and increase their interest in learning, she said.
Physical education is also important for students' psychological health as it can help them release their emotions, get away from the internet and build good social relations with their peers, she said.
Aesthetic education, such as music, art, drama and performance can enrich students' spiritual world, help them express themselves through art and creation, and relieve pressure, she added.
Huang Huachun, a deputy to the National People's Congress and vice-principal of Chongzuo Senior Middle School in the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, said in the two decades since she became a teacher, safeguarding students' psychological health has taken a more important place in her work.
Students' psychological problems mainly include not liking studying, depression and addiction to the internet, she told China Youth Daily.
"While the school does not allow students to bring their mobile phones to the campus, it is very hard for them to resist the urge to play online games," she said.
While parents in urban areas have more knowledge and acceptance of mental problems like depression, rural parents often dismiss them and think their children have such problems because they do not study hard enough or have nothing to do, she said.
Rural schools also lack psychological counselors and have not opened enough such courses compared with urban schools, Huang said.
Many schools do not include psychology courses in their teaching syllabus and there is no full-time psychology teacher in many rural schools, especially primary and middle schools, she added.
Huang suggested including psychological health education in the syllabus of schools and equipping them with enough teachers.
All parents should learn more about the Family Education Promotion Law, which took effect in 2021, and understand the importance of family education and parent-child relationships to children's development, she added.
Li Yingxin, a member of the National Committee of the CPPCC and vice-president of Beijing No 4 Intermediate People's Court, said the percentage of children who feel that they cannot perform well in any aspect increased by almost 10 percentage points in the last five years, while those who have high hopes toward the future decreased by 11.8 percentage points, she said.
She said more efforts are required to cultivate psychological counselors and psychiatrists for children and improve the accessibility of mental health services.
More importantly, parents, especially in rural areas, should be more sensitive to children's moods and behaviors, learn to identify mental problems and know when it is time to seek professional help, she said.
Society should also show more care and understanding for people suffering from psychological diseases, reduce the shame such patients feel and encourage them to seek treatment, she added.
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