China accounts for 17% of the global disease burden attributable to mental, neurological and substance use disorders. As a country undergoing profound societal change, China faces growing challenges to reduce the disease burden caused by psychiatric disorders. In this review, we aim to present an overview of progress in neuroscience research and clinical services for psychiatric disorders in China during the past three decades, analysing contributing factors and potential challenges to the field development. We first review studies in the epidemiological, genetic and neuroimaging fields as examples to illustrate a growing contribution of studies from China to the neuroscience research. Next, we introduce large-scale, open-access imaging genetic cohorts and recently initiated brain banks in China as platforms to study healthy brain functions and brain disorders. Then, we show progress in clinical services, including an integration of hospital and community-based healthcare systems and early intervention schemes. We finally discuss opportunities and existing challenges: achievements in research and clinical services are indispensable to the growing funding investment and continued engagement in international collaborations. The unique aspect of traditional Chinese medicine may provide insights to develop a novel treatment for psychiatric disorders. Yet obstacles still remain to promote research quality and to provide ubiquitous clinical services to vulnerable populations. Taken together, we expect to see a sustained advancement in psychiatric research and healthcare system in China. These achievements will contribute to the global efforts to realize good physical, mental and social well-being for all individuals.