When a child is hospitalized, their physical care is of the utmost priority. But what about their mental and psychological health? These are as important as their physical health, and can have lasting impacts on the rest of their lives as well. A child who is facing a difficult illness will face struggles that go beyond being physically sick. Along with coping with the disease, they, as well as their family, will experience mental stress as well. Mental health support is a crucial aspect during a child’s fight with illness.

Beijing Chun Miao Children’s Aid Foundation has observed that doctors and hospitals primarily focus on the physical health of the child, not on their mental health. This is due to the absence of professional social work programs in medical training institutions. There is a lack of trained staff capable of dealing with mental health issues properly. When staff lack basic understandings of social work theory and practice, the children in need are often not supported well. This project will address the lack of emphasis on mental and psychological health present in Chinese hospitals. It tackles the underlying issue of minimal formal training of medical social workers.

Li Yun, a social enterprise aimed at developing the field of medical social work in China, is implementing a training program that cultivates new medical social workers and promotes their retention in the field. It is also setting up partnerships with hospitals to establish formal offices for medical social work. The success of these pioneering initiatives will improve the social work focus in hospitals and will positively impact child patients and their families.

Chuan Miao - Medical Social Worker 2