Chinese submariners patrolling the contested South China Sea are suffering from “serious” psychological disorders, according to a recently published study first reported by Stars and Stripes.
“One group of military personnel at high risk of mental health problems is the submarine force, especially in the South China Sea,” five Chinese researchers affiliated with the Institute of Military Health Management at Naval Medical University in Shanghai wrote in an article published earlier this month in Military Medicine.
108 out of 511 surveys of Chinese submariners in the South China Sea showed signs of psychological disorders ranging from depression and anxiety to hostility, the study found.
The results were compared to mental health norms among male service members across the Chinese armed forces and were found to be “significantly higher.”
“This study demonstrates for the first time that soldiers and officers in the submarine force in the South China Sea are facing mental health risks and suffering from serious psychological problems,” the researchers concluded.
China claims the vast majority of the disputed South China Sea, and it has increased its naval patrols of the waterway over the years to reinforce its sovereignty claims.
“Studies have demonstrated that military maneuvers can produce psychological and physiological stress,” the Chinese researchers explained, adding that life aboard a submarine can also lead to mental health issues.