Special farm helps mental patients resume normal life

China Perspective

THE Heilongjiang province has introduced a special farm where mental patients could recuperate by undergoing special therapy and moderate physical exercises.  

The farm, the first of its kind in China’s interior regions, is located in Beidahuang, an area of 5.4 million hectares that was turned from wilderness into the country’s leading grain production base in the 1990s.  

Besides its 24 wards – all equipped with colour TVs and VCD players – that can accommodate up to 100 patients, the centre also has six hectares of farmland, a brewery, a stainless steel plant and an aluminium alloy plant.  

“The patients are encouraged to plant grain and vegetables in the fields or work at one of the plants,” said Huang Chunguang, head of the recuperation centre.  

He said patients could earn an average of 3,000 yuan (RM1,370) a year, which would be used to offset part of their living and medical expenses on the farm.  

Farm work has helped 27 patients recover and resume normal life since it opened in December last year, he said.  

Health Ministry figures show that China has about 16 million people suffering from serious mental diseases.  

Costs for treating mental diseases are higher than for other ailments and make up 20% of the nation’s medical bills.  

With timely treatment and professional instruction, about 60% of mental patients can return to a normal life. 

But experts say most patients have to recover both mentally and physically and learn basic communication and survival skills to return to society. – People's Daily  

Asia News Network

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