Article by Francis Miller
Good mental health helps us to effectively deal with stress, made good decisions, and relate positively to others. It can be as simple as a better night’s sleep, or it can be more complicated.
However, mental health is too frequently neglected, at least in part because it is often difficult to discuss openly. The reasons for this are many, including the shame and fear of being labelled “if I’m seen getting help” (stigma), a feeling that “nothing will help me” (hopelessness), or thinking “my problem isn’t that bad” (downplay/denial).
A general lack of awareness or access to resources means that even for those who seek out help, they may have trouble finding it, or worse, never get it. While it’s ultimately up to you as to how you take care of your mental health, this article aims to address the latter issue. Here are two exceptional resources that are available to anyone. They are accessible in China and both have WeChat accounts. They both offer free services, while the second offers some paid (albeit very affordable) services.
Started in 2004, Lifeline is the one and only totally free English-speaking crisis helpline service across China. They are available 12 hours each day from 10AM to 10PM. If you feel isolated, overwhelmed, or are struggling with life challenges, give them a call! They are a 100% volunteer-based social enterprise. They are affiliated with Lifeline International, a WHO-recognized organization dedicated to helping people meet their mental health needs. Their WeChat account also has a library of helpful articles – so check them out!
This organization is dedicated to bring knowledge, awareness, and support on mental health to the international community in China. Their WeChat account also has a long list of helpful articles and services, including a twice-monthly peer support group, Patient Health Questionnaires (also known as mood assessment tools), and a #TeensOpenLetter where others’ stories are shared. The articles are publicly available. The peer support group is a place to share personal experiences, thoughts, and feelings in a small, confidential gathering and only costs 40RMB. Registration is required ahead of time.
Address: 1507, Block C, Chaoyang International Plaza, West Changle Road, Xincheng District, Xi’an
Telephone: (029) 6829 1888
Mindfront Health started 30 years ago with the Belmont Clinic in Australia, and has since grown and expanded to China. Unlike many English-speaking options in Xi’an, the clinic offers in-person therapy for those who want a more personal touch.
Mindfront Health will provide feature services in five major fields: anxiety and depression, ADHD and internet addiction in children and adolescents, perinatal mental health problems, sleep disorders and problems caused by traumatic experiences.
Betterhelp is a well-established network of professional psychologists that offer online therapy through either live-chat sessions or video or phone call sessions. Betterhelp is a subscription-based service and will require either a credit card or Paypal account.
Due to the large network of psychologists, it is easier to find specialists who can help you with the specific issue that you are facing.
Talkspace is another online option that connects users with a network of licensed psychologists that can help with a variety of problems. After an initial screening, the site will help connect you with an appropriate therapist.
Talkspace provides therapy for individuals, couples, and teens.
There are also numerous apps for helping with sleep, meditation, and other ways to improve mental health. However, only the first is free – the others are paid. If the free one doesn’t work for you, try another!
This app is free AND works well in China AND features multiple different functions and a wealth of content, organized into the following categories: Meditation, Yoga, Sleep, Live, and Work. Their collection of sleep music is expansive. They advertise the “largest library of guided meditations on Earth.”
The following are paid apps with other features.
- Calm (paid, 7-day free trial) – www.calm.com
- Headspace (paid, 14-day free trial) – https://www.headspace.com/
I sincerely hope this might be helpful for any readers, or even as a recommendation to anyone who may be in need. If you have other recommendations or thoughts to share, I would love to hear them!
Francis is a college counselor in Xi’an. He can be reached at