Mental health is perceived differently in China than it is in the West, with mental problems often being hidden rather than treated. Still, when the enormity of the coronavirus epidemic became apparent and the city of Wuhan went into lockdown, many people chose to reach out.
Often, this was by sharing their worries, and even serious news and symptoms of loved ones, on social media. But others contacted privately funded mental health helplines, like the one manned by counselor Du Mingjun for the Hubei Psychological Consultant Association.
Although Du was alone in taking calls at first, she soon had to hire 200 volunteers, including Chinese-speaking counselors from countries like Canada and the US.
A recent article offers a fascinating glimpse at what the people of Wuhan experienced in the early days of the outbreak, from concern, frustration, and fear of not getting a hospital bed for a family member, to losing sleep from worry. Although some of these issues may not be the same for people in different countries or cultures, overall it shows that we’re all the same, and all afraid.
We can also get help. If you need to talk to someone, do an online search for helplines in your area. If you’re able to afford it, many mental health professionals also offer re1mote sessions via phone, as well as video or chat platforms. If you live abroad, you may still have access to these.
Read on to learn more about a psychological helpline in Wuhan, and the importance of mental health support while in quarantine or a medical crisis. As the article shows, sometimes sharing our worries, and hearing a calming voice and some professional advice can help change our outlook and keep us calm in times of chaos.
Contact Our Writer – Alysa Salzberg