Hanoi treated nearly 20,000 patients with mental illnesses last year, an increase of 2,000 over 2013, said Ly Tran Tinh, Director of Hanoi Mental Hospital.

In previous years, some medical stations even did not have any doctors specialising in mental health. Now medical stations have independent wards for mental illness patients. Each ward has between one and three doctors, and between one and five nurses, according to Tinh.

Medical stations across the city also organised monthly health examinations and distributed medicine to patients. Some stations also had monthly meetings where they discussed patients' conditions.

Mental illnesses treated include schizophrenia, depression, epilepsy and those caused by heroin addiction.

"Schizophrenia is one of the most difficult diseases to deal with, but it can be treated if it is discovered early," Tinh said.

Last year more than 8,000 schizophrenia patients received treatment.

The city distributed more than 40,000 leaflets to spread knowledge of mental illnesses. It also organised training courses for social workers, schools and families on recognising early signs of mental illness.

This year, the city's mental health sector will focus on three main goals, Tinh said. It will improve medical stations' capacities, improve the quality of treatment for patients who don't stay in the hospital to prevent them from discontinuing their treatment and give mental health workers more training, Tinh added.-VNA