LANZHOU, March 8 (Xinhua) -- Eyes red, Xiao Sun, a 20-year-old university student tried hard to control her emotions.
Sun is receiving mental health counseling at the women's right and service center in the city of Lanzhou, northwest China's Gansu Province.
"This is her second visit, and she is more relaxed, able to express her emotions and thoughts," said Yang Jinghan, a psychotherapist at the center.
"I felt depressed in high school. I told it to my parents, but they said I was just overthinking," she said. "One day, I burst out, ran out of the classroom and banged my head on the wall."
Sun's mother took her to see doctors. She took many kinds of medicine, but few worked. It was at that point that her mother realized that Sun had psychological problems.
She then went to a hospital for mental health counseling, but the cost of 300 yuan (about 44.7 U.S. dollars) for a two-hour session was unaffordable for her family in the long term.
"In recent years, we've seen a lot of stories similar to Sun's. Women suffer from too much pressure from work and life, but they don't receive treatment in time, so their problems get worse," said Zheng Boyu with the city's women federation.
In 2016, with the local government's support, the federation set up the women's rights and service center and recruited over 20 psychotherapists and 90 students majoring in psychology as volunteers to provide mental health counseling services for women and children free of charge.
Yang Jinghan has helped Sun discover the reason behind her problems. "Her moody father has brought her too much stress since she was a child," Yang said.
"I haven't felt this good in a long time. I believe that with the help of my therapist, everything will be alright," she said.
So far, more than 250 visits have been made to the center's counseling room, most of whom are women aged between 20 and 40, said Zhou Lina, a psychotherapist at the center.
"Many women are troubled by their marriage, parent-child and interpersonal relationships. But I feel that more and more women are now willing to open up their minds and talk about their problems to lead a happier life," she said.
Zhou once counseled a 67-year-old surnamed Li who had a psychological imbalance and suicidal thoughts because her husband ignored her devotion to their marriage.
"Li finally regained peace of mind," Zhou said. "If people learn more about their psychological health or are willing to seek mental health counseling, many problems will be dealt with, and more serious ones can be prevented."
In 2016, China issued a guideline on mental health services, calling for improved efforts for the prevention and treatment of mental illnesses, aiming to significantly increase people's awareness of mental health by 2020.
According to a report by the Mental Health Services, School of Psychology, Beijing Normal University and Jiandanxinli, an online mental health service platform, female visitors and counselors outnumbered their male counterparts on the platform from 2014 to 2018, with women accounting for 76 percent of visitors paying for counseling services on the platform last year.
"This means that women in China no longer take counseling as an embarrassing thing but are paying more attention to their emotions and mental state and have a stronger will to pursue a healthy life," Yang said.