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Online mental health support for expats in China

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), over 54 million people in China suffer from depression, and about 41 million suffer from anxiety disorders.

When it comes to addressing the staggering mental health issues, China has made significant gains in the last two decades in helping people overcome the prominent barriers that prevent them from accessing mental health diagnosis and care. Some of the actions taken include the introduction of the mental health law, which petitions for more facilities, an increase in qualified mental health professionals, and more mental health awareness. With mental health taking the spotlight and gaining government support, a wealth of resources and support are now available online for affected individuals to access.

In this article by Pacific Prime China, we look specifically at the online support available to expats, which includes online counseling or consultations, and mobile applications.

Online mental health resources and support in China

Owing to COVID-19, many people avoid leaving their homes or visiting a mental health counselor in fear of catching the disease. As an expat, you may find that getting effective help in person can be a little daunting with the virus still around. Fortunately, many online mental health services can help treat individuals from the comfort and safety of their own homes. Some of these are covered below.

Online counseling

There are many services available online in China that are catered to expats. Two of which are Talkspace and BetterHelp.

Both have become instrumental in assisting expats to overcome their mental health ordeals as they provide access to licensed mental health therapists. Therapy is provided via a secure messaging platform, but other options include calling and live video. Interestingly, Talkspace accepts health insurance plans so that users can cover the cost of the online counseling service. Talkspace also works closely with many employers, employee assistance programs (EAP), and educational organizations. Similarly, Better health also provides users with access to accredited and experienced counselors who can help with a range of issues including depression, anxiety, relationships, trauma, grief, and more.

According to the Journal of Telemedicine e-Health, Journal of Clinical Psychology, 80% of users found Talkspace to be as effective or more effective than traditional therapy, and 98% found it to be more convenient than the standard traditional therapy. The convenience is one aspect that attracts many users. Likewise, expats enjoy the thought of being able to manage time around sessions, as well as discuss urgent matters with a therapist, almost instantly. Scheduling a live session is also great for expats that can visually interact with a therapist with body language and emotions, while keeping at a distance amidst the pandemic.

Online mental health services and applications in China

If online counseling isn’t something you feel is beneficial to you, several apps can help improve your self-care routine and mental wellbeing. Some expats may appreciate an on-going self-check approach that doesn’t involve someone on the other side of the line. This is where apps like Daylio, Sleep Cycle, and Headspace come in.

Mood tracking by Daylio

“Daylio is a very versatile app, and you can turn it in whatever you need to track. Your fitness goal pal. Your mental health coach. Your food log. Your gratitude diary. Mood tracker. Exercise, meditate, eat, and be grateful. Take care of your mental, emotional, and physical health. Good self-care is a key to improved mood and reduced anxiety.” – Daylio

Daylio is a mood tracker app, which primarily focuses on a minimalistic approach for users. In terms of minimalism, the app simply rates your day with five moods: rad, good, meh, bad, and awful. During the days and weeks of rating, the app generates a graph that indicates your mood during the period and helps you see what influences your life the most. With this, the app will not only help empower your decision making, but also help you pinpoint what is effective or unproductive in your life. Additionally, expats can add notes or thoughts that may be on their minds and create a mini journal to reflect on. Overall, expats can monitor themselves and self-review their mental health, which prevents unknown mental health conditions from arising.

Sleep Cycle

“Sleep Cycle tracks and analyzes your sleep, waking you up at the most perfect time, feeling rested.” – Sleep Cycle

Stress, anxiety, and depression are among some of the mental health problems that can arise due to lack of sleep. According to HelpGuide, adults require 7-9 hours to ensure they get enough rest to function properly when they wake up the following day. With Sleep Cycle, expats can effectively track their sleep cycle, which can help improve the quality of sleep and therefore their mental health wellbeing.


“Meditation has been shown to help people stress less, focus more, and even sleep better. Headspace is meditation made simple.” – Headspace

Headspace is an app that sees meditation as a practice with many benefits especially for expats with mental health issues. The app is committed to advancing the field of mindfulness meditation through clinically-validated research. In fact, research shows that Headspace can positively impact stress, focus, mood, aggression, anxiety, depression, and more. Together with a robust, scientific approach, Headspace teaches users how to meditate by offering a free 10-day beginner’s course.

Take note: Counselors, therapists, and mobile applications are unable to give out medical advice when it comes to pharmaceutical interventions and life-threatening mental health situations. Should you find yourself in a medical emergency or know anyone else who requires medical intervention, you should seek urgent medical help.

Discover more about mental health from Pacific Prime China

As a brokerage for insurance, our experts produce insightful and informative blog articles that cover extensively a range of topics such as health insurance for expats, businesses, and schools, as well as those related to the impact of COVID-19 on mental health.

Below are some of the articles that we have written for our audience:

Together with our insurance partners, Pacific Prime China aims to quote effective and affordable expat health insurance plans for individuals and families in China, along with group health insurance plans for small and large organizations.

To find out more about what Pacific Prime China can do to help, contact us today.

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Disclaimer: Pacific Prime China solely represents, operates, and manages locally regulated insurance products and services in the territory of PR China. Any references to Pacific Prime Global Company or Group, the international services, insurance products, or otherwise stated written or verbally, is for introduction purposes about our overseas network only as each entity is fully independent.