Migration and Urban Mental Health in China

Reference work entry
Part of the Mental Health and Illness Worldwide book series (MHIW)


In the past 30 years, China has transformed from a rural to an urban society. The combination of massive rural-to-urban migration and rapid in situ urbanization has led to significant changes in cities’ neighborhood composition and characteristics, as well as residents’ lifestyles. Such changes have serious implications for individuals’ mental health. The reported prevalence of mental disorders has increased steadily during the past two decades. Urbanization improves access to health care, which leads to health advantages. In the meanwhile, the dynamic urbanization process has also adversely affected the mental health status of both long-term urban residents and new urbanites. As China’s urbanization continues, the negative mental health effects are expected to increase further. Despite the increasing public health concerns about the population’s mental well-being, resources for mental health services remain scarce and unevenly distributed. Mental health service provision is primarily hospital-based and concentrated in urban centers. People encounter both structural and cultural barriers when seeking professional help for emotional or mental problems. The government recently initiated a community-based mental health service system nationwide that incorporates monitoring, intervention, prevention, and rehabilitation. To be effective, this system should integrate professional and nonprofessional approaches, mental health treatments and family interventions, and online and offline services.


China Migration Urbanization Mental health Help seeking Community-based service system Service development Service integration 



The research undertaken for this chapter received funding from the General Research Fund of the Research Grants Council of Hong Kong (PolyU5411/12H) and the Li & Fung China Social Policy Research Fund. The author is grateful for the thoughtful comments from the editors and reviewers.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Singapore 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Applied Social SciencesThe Hong Kong Polytechnic UniversityHung Hom, Kowloon, Hong Kong SARChina

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