Despite the latest in medical technologies, mental disorders are universally misunderstood or ignored. Each case has very unique and complicated causes, but that has never stopped Jia Lixian, her husband Tian Guohua, and their platoon of volunteers from running their rehabilitation therapy for mental disorder sufferers at Beijing's Ping An Hospital.


In order to assist patients and their families, Jia Lixian and Tian Guohua decided to create the program after the passing of their mentally ill son. Their program teaches mental health patients a mix of painting, dance, music, and crafts, and the results have been remarkable. What's their secret?

"You need a lot of patience when you teach them how to paint. They are prone to forget things and sometimes their hands are not agile enough to command complicated curves as a side effect of drug therapy, but you cannot get frustrated or angry with them. Our only choice is to help them start from the very beginning if they forget what they have previously learned," Jia says.

For some volunteers patience is only part of the key, as courage is required to fully give your attention to those suffering from mental disorders. For example, after the violent knife attacks of a mentally ill man at a Beijing supermarket shocked the world, it's no wonder that at times there are several doctors and nurses are on hand when courses are taught. But such incidents shed light on the many mental disorder cases that are not properly diagnosed and are left to cause further anguish.

On May 1st, the country's first mental health law took effect with the intention of boosting public participation in caring for the mentally ill by calling for local governments to support and encourage individuals and organizations that wish to provide services for such patients. Li Shuo is the hospital manager and says that the law is good for mental hospitals and patients, but society has a long way to go in rising above the discrimination.

"Drug therapy is a basic but very small part of the recovery process. Receiving care from relatives and community members can reshape patients' perceptions of society, and thus is helpful for them to return to normal life," Li adds.

One painting student stated that the reason why she enjoyed painting was, "[Jia] would come teach us even when she had a fever." That's some real dedication.