That great rite of passage which is obtaning one’s driver’s licence just got a bit harder here in Shanghai — applicants are now tested on obscure pieces of information called “traffic rules”, and giving cigarettes to the test administrators isn’t going to help you, because they now use robots, or rather, electronic devices equipped with sensors that can tell when you’ve made a mistake, such as forgetting to signal for a turn, or messing up the driving in the curved line or figure-eight parts of the rest. When you a fail, a voice will immediately notify you that “you have failed this item”. At least you can curse these voices with impunity.
October 10 was World Mental Health Day, and the Oriental Morning Post ran an article about Shanghai mental health professionals making a call for greater recognition and treatment for mental health problems. According to one professor of mental health, there are about 160,000 people officially classified as having some kind of mental health problem, but according to more general surveys and definitions of mental health, up to 7.1 percent of the adult population — in Shanghai, meaning nearly a million people — have what might be broadly termed a mental health problem. And yet there are only 1,300 doctors in the city to deal with this issue, so the ratio is 770 patients for every doctor.
Speaking of mental health, a 21 year old girl recently attempted to drown herself in the Huangpu River. She was rescued and later claimed that she was suffering from some form of depression. (We’d be depressed, too, if we failed at killing ourselves.) The doctors’ call (see above) is timely indeed.