Mental Health in Taiwan

Cases like this make me really wonder how bad the fear of mental health ‘losing face’ really is. Taiwanese don’t speak about mental health. If one pursues treatment, even for a minor case like depression, this information can be used against that person in future divorce battle for children custody. A seasonal depression is not determinant of a capability of a parent, although more serious issues are. So I am afraid the whole fear of talking about it comes for the underlying potential threat of such information being out and used against the person. The result is no one wanting to talk about it, not a single mention in the school system, just nothing.

The psychiatric and psychology fields here are just coping machines, bombarding you with drugs you don’t even need just to not talk about the root or try to solve the problem.

Taiwanese are too afraid to discuss mental health because they link it with being handicapped in the society, which it is not. The few people or professionals who really care about the matter are slammed shut and the ones that remain on business are the Oprah style pill giving practitioners. He gets a pill, she gets a pill everybody gets a pill.

I see so many of the murder news here end up with the disguise of mental health problem. My conclusion is: 1- those people are playing the mental health sickness card with their lawyers help to fool the jury and get no sentence, 2- mental health is in desperate need to be addressed in this country

Wasn’t the guy who just stabbed the biker from the back in Xindian claiming allegedly mental sick? But before that he was just some young privileged guy , wasn’t he?


Also worth noting is that a huge percentage of families here still treat these problems like it’s fucking 1850, so admitting to a family member being afflicted, never mind trying to remedy it, is still seen as a massive loss of face.

I got a kid who is an elementary level Special Needs teacher out in the County, and getting affected kids’ parents to just fucking accept the diagnosis is often the hardest part of the job. Even for widely recognised and relatively innocuous learning disorders.


I have a friend who is in the same field, but she teaches in Taipei. She also says the parents don’t want to acknowledge anything , even minor issues. Also, the parents of kids who have less obvious issues push the principal to just put as many ’normal’ kids as they can in the class because they don’t want to say their own child is in a special class (no kidding this is brought up every time they have parents meeting, when the parents attend)


once upon a time in russia there was no word for “alcoholism” yet they have the word “Запой” which means binge drinking for days or weeks at a time


Sounds like psychiatric nurses are needed in some of these classes rather than teachers.Have them all playing dominoes and cards while taking meds :wink:

TBH I don’t think that Taiwan is different than any other place in this regards:

Tell me a country in the World where ill willed self motherfuckers wouldn’t use that or anything else in a fight for children’s custody.

What I did use to think, and I guess that I still think, is that Taiwan society used to be and still is a bit repressive regarding individuals. People are taught to shut the fuck up and assume their role in life, to do whatever the boss or whoever is above says. To obey. I’m not saying that everybody has to be a rebelious punk (I prefer to be that one), but opinions, and being different in a different way (and not just following a popular trend) seem to be rare here. Same with emotions. Things are changing and I’m sure that people who have been around will confirm on that, but in general terms it seems that people keep their opinions and emotions well inside (except when it’s time for an old good backstabbing).

With an ambient of general repression to the individual, I find normal that there are more edge cases, more nutters on the street or at home going crazy and doing fucked up things, like cutting people into pieces or torturing them.

It’s a bad combination of people being naturally different (and some if not all having some real mental problems) and a society in which you can’t be different.

This is a problem Taiwan will have to address sooner or later. With social media and violent events becoming heroic or aspired it is very different than in grandpa’s time when word of mouth wasn’t so easily spread and media didn’t allow peers to support these actions. Now the world has changed and the newer generations together with it.

True. But for example, a simple depression is enough to strip someone of their assets and child custody here. Not in many other countries. You would need to be diagnosed with schizophrenia or something heavy for the court to listen, at listen bipolar disorder and medication for years. Here if you just want to vent to a psychologist you better be prepared that this record of couple therapy, venting, or whatever will be the cause of you losing your child. I am not saying things don’t get nasty in parents custody in the West, but a simple depression or OCD or something like that is not enough to pull you down.

Mental health help is non existent here. As a kid if you want someone to talk to, you better pray you have a homeroom teacher who knows how to talk about your problems and help you work through them. I am amazed at how many homeroom teachers have to “mom” everyone and play therapist. Some of them do a great job of it, most of them don’t care or have the time to help 30 students with their problems.

As an adult, you can take a whole host of drugs, even though all most people need is someone to talk through the problems they’re having and give them help in working them out. Drugs don’t replace human interaction. It’s why alcoholism is a problem everywhere – using a drug to combat one’s own loneliness. I tried to find a counselor here…yeah they’re worthless.

Parents certainly play a huge role here. I have four students in one regular class who can’t speak properly (stutter, start to ask a question and then just walk away like they had nothing to say in the first place, etc.) and can’t even write their own Chinese names. They clearly have some serious learning disabilities, but their parents insist that their kid is “normal” and refuse to allow testing for disability. Some of them have multiple siblings who are also cognitively impaired, all of them consistently failing every single test and unable to even copy homework answers from others. One of them started filling in all the circles on a test answer sheet. The parents complained when the kid got a 0%. I am no longer allowed to give about 12 of my 175 students grades because I gave them all 50% since they showed up to class and colored the whole time, completely oblivious to the fact that English class was happening around them.

My guess would be over 90% of my students come from broken families. The only way they know to work out conflicts is to beat each other up and put their fists through windows. They are all in serious need of help, but there isn’t any, even if they were willing to get it.

Did you ever notice that “酒鬼” has a somewhat positive connotation? There isn’t really any stigma against alcoholism here, which doesn’t mean people get help without fear. It means it’s perfectly normal to be an alcoholic, not that alcoholism is viewed as a serious mental illness.

I don’t know about the rest of “the West”, but in the US, mental health has flipped in the other direction. By the time I was graduating from college (uni), everything needed trigger warnings and plenty of people would excuse themselves from class when it “gave them anxiety”. My first three years of college weren’t like that.

By the time I got to student teaching, I was constantly dealing with students that “couldn’t do things” “because of anxiety” or “depression” or “because I had a panic attack last night”. I’m shocked I wasn’t sued for telling a class that if they’re unable to complete assignments for mental health reasons, they need to see someone to help them get over it. “Recording a video in Chinese gives me anxiety”. Ok, then see someone about your anxiety or bring a note from a licensed medical professional excusing your lack of 65% of your assignments or drop my class. Cuz a hard-ass teacher is going to help your anxiety (not). My problem is that I almost think it’s “trendy” to have mental health problems in American schools at the moment. I’m not being callous; I certainly had my share of mental health struggles throughout my life. I’ve been through more than one instance in my life that resulted in (diagnosed) PTSD. But when you constantly use your mental illness as an excuse for absolutely everything, as many people do in the US… Yes, it can be crippling, but if you aren’t working through it with someone you can’t take it out on everyone and everything around you.

At least schools in the US are legally obligated to make sure students with physical and learning disabilities are helped. Parents can’t just say “my kid is normal, don’t you dare put them in a special ed class” when it’s clear they can’t write their own name in 7th grade.

Somewhere between Taiwan at its current state and the US at its current state, there is a balance in the world of mental health help.

@nz Except for the US part (I’m not from the USA so I wouldn’t know about the situation there) I second everything you said above about Taiwan in this matter.

In Taiwan, in my limited experience, seeking help or treatment is hit or miss. I’ve had heartfelt chats with over four current uni students and over three that have now graduated about their psychological/emotional issues. Most sought some kind of treatment, whether pharmacological or psychotherapy, but mentioned that they often felt better sharing their experiences with me (in a mix of English and Chinese). That’s likely because their “doctors” spend little time actually listening.

I have checked with their 導師s, as subtly as possible. Some had no clue. For every student that feels comfortable coming forward and discussing with me, there are likely at least two that “fall through the cracks.”

I am not a certified therapist, and give only my personal experiences and general cautions, but have the numbers of two free on-campus counsellors handy.

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Isn’t this everywhere?

It’s not like counseling is affordable back in the states either, I guess depending on your insurance (if you have any).

NHI is great but when a doctor has to see 200 patients a day, they don’t really have the time to spent 2 hours with each patient.

Now there are non NHI shrinks out there but they cost over 4000 for one session. He will spend time with you. However ultimately, I think if he gives you drugs just go to the NHI shrink for the drugs. No need to keep paying 4000 over and over again. Especially when NHI treatment is cheap. Basically just go to the 4000nt shrink and ask him to recommend treatment, then go to the NHI shrink to get it done. Maybe request a copy of any test results and give that over to the 4000nt shrink if necessary (if you feel you need more in depth examinations).

I seen them once and they did recommend lexapro. Honestly counseling could be done at The Center but I value time with a good friend more than any counselor, free or otherwise. Unfortunately most of them are constantly busy.

This is what pressure from college entrance exams will do to you.