BEIJING, June 11 (Xinhuanet) -- The city of Guangzhou, in Guangdong province, opened two "Happy Chat Rooms" on Friday to provide free psychological consultations for residents feeling the pressure of a quickly changing society.
The chat rooms offer lectures on psychological health and are staffed by volunteer experts, who answer inquiries by phone, via the Internet and in person.
They are located in the Jianshe Street community in Yuexiu district, and Jiangnanzhong Street community in Haizhu district, and are open to the public a half day each week.
The service is an important part of the social psychological consultation system being built in Guangzhou and targets the increasing strain residents may feel from fast-paced social change, according to the city's publicity department, which is working with the South China Normal University in the endeavor.
The chat rooms are in line with provincial and city authorities' efforts to improve people's sense of well-being.
"In this transitional period in society, people are under unprecedented psychological pressure. Left unaddressed, the problems they feel can have harmful effects," said Chen Jun, director of the Applied Psychology Department of the South China Normal University.
More people are beginning to take psychological problems seriously and no longer consider it shameful to visit a professional counselor, she said.
Huang Fulian, Chen's first client at the chat room in the Jianshe Street community, said she was at a loss for how to deal with her 14-year-old daughter, who does not study hard and will soon take the exam to enter high school.
"She dreams of going to a good high school, but she is afraid it is too late to study hard," Huang said.
Chen talked to Huang about the range of choices for her daughter's further education and strategies for communicating with her.
The lecture at the chat room on Friday explores the theme of what makes people happy and future lectures will cover different topics including preschool children, adolescents and marital relations, Chen said.
Liao Junjie, who is in his first year of high school, said the chat room is a good idea and he may visit it if he runs into a significant problem.
"People might feel under pressure and want to talk with somebody. If they try to deal with it on their own, they might break down," Liao said.
He said one of his problems is the quarrels he has with his parents.
At the city-funded chat rooms, experts will train community workers to provide psychological counseling daily.
(Source: China Daily)