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Mental health training for 60 social workers

SIXTY employees from health centers and mental health facilities started training yesterday to become the first social workers on China's mainland to specialize in mental health services.

Classes will be given by experts from Shanghai Mental Health Center and East China University of Science and Technology on social work theory, mental health knowledge and policies. After the three-month course, the trainees will go back to their hospitals to start work.

"This kind of social worker is a bridge between hospital and the patients, many of whom don't have access to welfare and favorable policies for the mentally ill," said Dr Xiao Zeping, president of the Shanghai Mental Health Center.

Social workers provide and coordinate available sources to protect patients' rights, giving them guidance in medical treatment and helping those in a stable condition to return to society, experts said.

"Right now the service is shouldered by our nurses and doctors in mental health centers. It impacts medical staff's working efficiency and wastes limited health resources," Xiao said. "Social workers are the best persons to take the responsibility. Working in grassroots facilities allows social workers to be close to patients and their families and offer help, since many feel ashamed to have mental diseases."

Health authorities plan to train about 150 social workers in mental health this year.


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