China Insights

Chinese urbanites least likely to be depressed

Diana Tan

General Manager for China

Health 10.10.2018 / 17:41


US people are significantly more likely to self-identify as having signs of depression, according to data from Kantar Health.

October 10 marks the global Mental Health Day. Mental health awareness is a global issue, that transcends class, gender, ethnicity, age and family history. Across the world there is a need to end the stigma around mental health, as evidenced by trends in National Health and Wellness Study, the Kantar Health global database capturing patient voices on over 200 health conditions.

WHO reports that half of mental illness begins by age 14, and suicide is the second leading cause of death among 15-29 year olds. The Global Health and Wellness Study from Kantar Health showed that Americans are significantly more likely to self-identify as having signs of depression (28.4%), followed closely by the UK (25.8%). The French (10.3%) are least likely in Europe, Japan (4.5%) and Urban Chinese (3.7%) are least likely to self-identify as being depressed.

EN Depression Prevalence

Women are more likely to suffer from depression than men. Globally, US women (32%) and British women (28.1%) stood out in particular as having experienced depression. The pattern is the same in most countries – in Brazil, the prevalence of depression among women is even 50% higher than among men (21% vs 14%). In China, there is no big difference between genders: 3.7% for men and 3.6% for women.

EN Depression Prevalence By Gender

In China, like in most other countries, mental health is heavily stigmatized. As a result, most people who are experiencing depression don’t seek professional help. In 2012, a Lancet Magazine study said that 173 million Chinese have mental illness, but only 15 million sought treatment (less than 10%).

The challenge is true across the world. In the seven most economically developed countries (MEDC), almost half of men and over one third of women are not seeking professional healthcare support once they identify themselves as having feelings of depression.

EN Self -reporting And Seeking Treatment

There are two more alarming signals in this year’s findings:

1. We have created a mental health crisis amongst the world’s young people between age of 18 and 34. In US, 44.7% of young women are self-diagnosed as depression. In UK, the number is 36% for young women. In China, it was 5.0% for young women and 5.9% for young men.

EN Young Mental Health Crisis

2. In all countries, harmful thoughts of self-harm or “being better off dead” are not rare at all. Almost one in five (18%) of the MEDC population have had thoughts of self-harm or have thought they would be better off dead in the past two weeks.

Despite the very low rates of depression self-diagnosis in China – thoughts of self-harm rates here are close to those Western countries: 19.1% for men and 18.9% for women.

EN Harmful Thoughts

It is a long and winding road to tackle the challenge of mental health crisis. In China, the major issue is lack of resources to treat the mentally ill, such as not enough doctors, counsellors and beds in psychiatric wards. Given that Chinese people are not comfortable in speaking out of their depression, we at Kantar Health hope the release of these data can help raise the awareness of mental health and motivate more resources to join the cause of protecting people’s mental wellbeing.

Source: Kantar Health

Editor's notes

* The Global Health and Wellness Study by Kantar Health is the world’s biggest independent study in to health and wellbeing outcomes. Over 20 years, more than 3 million surveys have been completed. For the data quoted in this article, 200,000 people were surveyed across nine countries: US (75K), UK (15K), France (15K), Germany (15K), Italy (10K), Spain (7K), Brazil (12K), China (20K) and Japan (30K). All data were collected in 2017 except in Brazil where the data were from 2016;

* To reach the author, or to know more information, data and analysis of health and pharmaceutical industry in China and in the world, please contact us ; 

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