Accessibility of mental health support in China and preferences on web-based services for mood disorders: A qualitative study

Yuxi Tan, Emily G. Lattie, Yan Qiu, Ziwei Teng, Chujun Wu, Hui Tang, Jindong Chen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background: The fast development of mobile technologies provides promising opportunities to fulfill the largely unmet needs of treatment and recovery for mood disorders in China. However, with limited research from China, the development of acceptable and usable web-based mental health services that are based on preference of patients from China still remains a challenge. Objective: The aims of this paper were to (1) understand the experience of patients with mood disorders on current accessibility of mental health support in China; and (2) to get insights on patients' preferences on web-based mental health services, so as to provide suggestions for the future development of web-based mental health services for mood disorders in China. Methods: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 10 female participants diagnosed with depression and 7 with bipolar disorder (5 female and 2 male) via the audio chat function of WeChat. The interviews were 60–90 min long and were audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim. Thematic analysis was conducted using QSR NVivo 12 to identify and establish themes and sub-themes. Results: Two major sections of results with a total of 5 themes were identified. The first section was participants' treatment and recovery experience, which included three main themes: (1) professional help seeking experience; (2) establishment of self-help strategies; and (3) complex experiences from various source of social support. The second section was focused on preferences for web-based services, which were divided into two themes: (1) preferred support and features, with three sub-themes: as channels to access professionals, as databases for self-help resources, and as sources of social support; and (2) preferred modality. Conclusions: The access to mental health support for personal recovery of mood disorders in China was perceived by participants as not sufficient. Web-based mental health services that include professional, empathetic social support from real humans, and recovery-oriented, personalized self-help resources are promising to bridge the gap. The advantages of social media like WeChat were emphasized for patients in China. More user-centered research based on social, economic and cultural features are needed for the development of web-based mental health services in China.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100475
JournalInternet Interventions
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • Mental health
  • Mood disorder
  • Recovery
  • Web-based health service

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics


Dive into the research topics of 'Accessibility of mental health support in China and preferences on web-based services for mood disorders: A qualitative study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this