Feeling depressed? Mahjong might be the answer

Posted on September 20, 2019

Poor mental health is a prevalent problem in China. For older adults, social isolation and loneliness are the major issues affecting their psychological well-being.

As prior studies have proven that engaging in social activities have positive effects on mental health in various nations such as the United States and in Japan. Since the type of social activities and interaction with others differ in different cultures, a study has been conducted to see if the results found by previous research are applicable to China as well.

Researchers from the Huazhong University of Science and Technology in China examined survey responses from about 11, 000 residents who are 45 years or older. They focused on the depressive symptoms, type of social participation and the frequency of this participation.

Results indicated that joining a diverse range of activities regularly correlates positively with mental well-being. It was also found that rural Chinese tended to have poorer mental health compared to urban Chinese. Urban Chinese individuals who played mahjong regularly tended to report lesser depressive symptoms.

This could be explained by the disruption of social structures in rural China, where many younger individuals ventured into urban areas for work, weakening the community ties in the rural places. Playing mahjong also does not help improve the health of the elderly residing in rural areas. Researchers hypothesized that playing mahjong in these areas are more associated with gambling and competitiveness, hence older adults do not enjoy it as much. These findings could help to guide health professionals in developing measures to improve the mental health of these adults.


Source material from Science Daily

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