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An 11-year-old boy is chained up like a dog by his own family in a shocking example of how mental disorders are dealt with in rural China.
He Zili has been pictured walking along the narrow lanes of his village shackled to his father, who did not want to be named, in the eastern coastal province of Zhejiang.
The boy was also seen chained to a pillar at his home.
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Zili is currently being looked after by his physically disabled grandfather and his intellectually handicapped father after his mother died of cancer.
Statistics released this year by China's National Center for Mental Health showed that as of the year of 2009, 100 million Chinese suffered from mental health problems with more than 160 million citizens afflicted with serious mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and paranoid psychosis.
In 2009, the Ministry of Health’s Center for Statistics Information reported that China had a total of nearly 19 million psychiatric patients. Still, there are only 637 psychiatric hospitals and only 88,117 health professionals trained to provide care.
In an essay published in Foreign Policy, in January 2011, Wan Yanhai, a medical doctor and advocate for HIV/AIDS prevention in China, criticized China’s conflicted approach to mental health care, and the dangers it can cause.
“I have seen people sent to mental hospitals for being gay, for domestic disputes and for political dissent,” he wrote.
“Many whose lives could be improved will never receive medical attention, and many who don’t need it are held in confinement in the name of medicine.”