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Sun, Aug 05, 2001 - Page 2 News List

Study shows men hesitant to seek help for depression

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

About 25 percent of Taiwan's population suffer from depression, a psychiatrist said yesterday.

Only one-third of them, however, seek professional help, according to Chen Kuo-hua (陳國華), a psychiatrist at the Cathay General Hospital (國泰醫院).

And only one-third of those seeking help are men, said Kuo, citing statistics released in June by the Department of Health.

"Although more and more men are willing to see psychiatrists nowadays, most still hesitate to do so because they think it's a sign of weakness," Chen said.

Recent statistics released by the Taipei City Psychiatric Center (台北市立療養院) showed that in the first half of this year the center saw a 35 percent increase over the same period last year in the number of male patients seeking psychiatric help.

Chen made the remarks at a public forum held at the city council yesterday morning. He was one of a number of medical experts and private groups invited by KMT city councilwoman Chen Hsueh-fen (陳雪芬) to discuss the current plight of men in the run up to Father's Day, on Aug. 8. Chen attributed the increase in male patients seeking psychiatric help to the recent economic slowdown and changes in men's traditional roles.

"Many people have lost their jobs because of the current recession. Fortunately, we do see that more and more men are willing to show their emotions and talk about their feelings," he said.

Wu Mei-hui (吳美惠), chairman of the Taipei Association for the Promotion of Women's Rights (台北市女性權益促進會), said that men should try to express themselves more freely. "I know it's hard because they're not brought up that way, but times have changed and men have to catch up with them," she said.

Lu Chung-hsing (魯中興), director of the Taipei City Community Mental Hygiene Center (台北市社區心理衛生中心), echoed Wu's view.

Citing a survey conducted by the center in May, Lu said many of the city's children are reluctant to talk about personal problems with their fathers because they believe they are less caring than their mothers.

"While 25 percent of the 350 junior high school students questioned turned to their mothers for help, only 5 percent turned to their fathers," Lu said. The survey also found that 35 percent of students polled talk with their fathers for less than 10 minutes a day.

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