BEIJING, June 22 (Xinhaunet) -- China's health authorities are taking urgent steps to address the growing risks of leaving severe mental patients untreated following a spate of violent assaults in recent months.
Vice-Minister of Health Yin Li said the ministry is planning to renovate or expand 550 psychiatric hospitals and departments across the country in two years.
Other measures include establishing a registration system and free mental health counseling hotlines for patients, improving access to mental health services particularly at the grassroots level, and seeking to provide free treatment for those whose condition is serious, Yin said.
"To help ensure social security, the ministry will work closely to ensure that the needy, especially those with serious conditions, get timely and quality treatment," he said at a meeting on public security on Sunday.
In an age of social transformation under the impact of mounting pressure and a fast paced lifestyle, rising mental disorders in China have gradually become an urgent issue, he said.
Currently, more than 100 million Chinese suffer from various mental illnesses, including 18 million serious patients, according to official estimates.