This is a continued feature multi-part blog post written by our Executive Director, Alanna Hendren. Alanna will be blogging about her recent experience flying off to China as the leader of the People-to-People Psychiatric Services and Developmental Disabilities Delegation. Every Tuesday and Friday, we will be posting about her journey in China, the developmental services offered there, and the people there. To read part 5, follow this link.
The afternoon was spent at the University of Peking’s Department of Psychiatry, where we met with Qui Zhuoying, PhD, research professor and two young female psychiatrists, one of whom was a lead researcher in ADHD. The Department has over 60 professors who teach everything from pediatric to geriatric psychiatry. The University Hospital has 260 beds, 40 of which are pediatric. For children, the average length of stay is 60 days, for adults, the average is 90 days (much longer than in Canada).
The Institute of Mental Health (IMH) of Peking University is the clinical treatment, staff training and scientific research base of psychiatry and mental health for China. It is also the research and training coordination center for the country and the World Health Organization on mental health. The hospital specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of dementia, autism, children’s behavior problems and learning challenges. The IMH traces its roots to 1942 and the first Department of Neurology and Psychiatry at the School of Medicine in Peking University. Their mission is ‘Passion for Science, Compassion for People’.
Children with autism are generally admitted to the outpatient department. They use applied behavior analysis and structured programming. Psychiatrists treat outpatients with medications that can be administered at home and in school. Those children with severe behaviors don’t go to school but rather stay home with their families.
There is presently a fraction of the population that has a substance abuse problem but like the Chinese say, when you open the window, flies come in with the fresh air. The flies are the negative aspects of Western culture. Some teenagers and young adults may be experimenting with drugs, but it is not a major problem so far. They have a special patient services program for alcoholism and offer Alcoholics Anonymous supports on site. 40% of the patients there are from other provinces.
IMH is the first and the only teaching facility dedicated to Chinese National Continuing Medical Education in Psychiatry. More than 1,000 graduates have received their education from IMH. The only National Key Laboratory for Mental Health founded by the Ministry of Health is located at IMH. The Institute’s strategic goals for the next 10 to 20 years include:
- Identifying the role of gene networks and related etiologies of mental illness
- Developing new animal models to better understand neuronal dysfunctions through studies of neuroreceptor and transporter locations and activities at the anatomical and electrophysiological levels
- Developing biological markers in model systems and humans that could be further validated as methods for diagnosing and/or detecting risk/vulnerability, selecting medications and/or predicting medication effects.
We left Beijing on Saturday May 30, reflecting on our short time there. Madame Xiao was an inspiration – she started a program that had served over 600 people from scratch and was relentless in gaining support for her ‘students’. The Peking Duck dinner where scorpions were on the menu and the proprietor was the 5th generation of the family with the best recipe was a big hit with everyone. Walking the Great Wall in the sunshine and exploring the Forbidden City, more vast and expansive than we ever could have imagined were definitely peak life experiences.