While COVID-19 and the often-sweeping responses required by governments across the world in 2020–21 will continue to have immense economic consequences, it is most likely on people’s mental wellbeing that the long-term impact will be deepest. COVID-19 has caused people to be isolated and anxious, and we have seen a sharp rise in reports of incidences of mental health issues.
Dr Carla de Utra Mendes’s paper is an important reminder that, despite all of this, at the level of individuals – whether in China, Europe or anywhere else – there is a great deal of parity. Chinese people, too, as statistics in this overview show, have found their daily lives made more challenging and that they are more anxious because of the pandemic.
In this context, the Chinese Government, so often seen by outsiders as a controlling, negative force, in fact comes across as an entity similar to administrations anywhere else, trying to frame policies and create responses to issues that are often vast and complex, and for which new answers are keenly sought.
This policy paper highlights the Chinese Government's response to mental health impacts during COVID-19 using technology and digital service provision. The paper is keenly aware of the potentially fraught usage of technology, data and artificial intelligence, and ultimately demonstrates that mental health - whether in China, the UK or elsewhere - is a huge challenge no one has the easy answers to.
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