Families in China carry a heavy burden of responsibility for the care of their loved ones who experience mental illness. Supporting and empowering families to cope better will not only be beneficial for the person with mental illness, but is of vital importance for the mental health system as a whole. Utilising the resources of family members to reduce relapse is a key strategy to address the shortage of trained mental health professionals in China.

Although families in China have a much greater involvement in the lives of their adult children with mental illness compared to Western countries, mental health clinicians receive little training in how to work most therapeutically with families .

To address this gap, AAMH was asked to provide training in Single Session Family Consultation and relapse prevention in the 7th. annual program in Balanced Rehabilitation organised by the National Institute of Mental Health at Peking University and attended by 82 mental health leaders and clinicians from 20 provinces across China.

Brendan O’Hanlon, Mental Health Program Manager at the Bouverie Centre, a leading provider of training, research and service provision for families, joined Margaret Goding from AAMH, to deliver a program which combined short presentations with demonstration role-plays, followed by practice. Although this format presents significant challenges for mono-lingual trainers who are dependent on translators for communication, the program evaluation indicated that this more active and participatory format was preferred to a more traditional lecture style. The role-plays were based on actual Chinese case examples.

One participant commented: “Work with family directly, have opportunities to apply, can provide suggestions and guidance to patients and families, improve their quality of life”. Many participants indicated that they would be able to apply what they had learnt, and most importantly teach others in their workplace and introduce a new way of thinking.


Demonstration role-play; Clinician meets with mother, son and father.


Family role-playing.