Mental health MindHK
Mental health stigmatisation has long been a problem in Hong Kong, leading to a serious under-recognition of mental health issues across society and a significant under-provision of mental health services. To tackle this we decided to take inspiration from London, a multi-cultural city where traditional attitudes stigmatising those suffering from mental health problems had been virtually eliminated. We started by looking for ideas that had worked there and how we could make a similar major difference in our own cosmopolitan city of Hong Kong.
Mind is a UK charity founded in 1946, and is now one of the largest mental health NGOs in the world. It’s mission is to provide advice and support to empower anyone experiencing a mental health problem. Mind campaigns tirelessly to improve services, raise awareness and promote understanding. It states that it “won’t give up until everyone experiencing a mental health problem gets support and respect”.
PCF teamed up with Mind in 2017 to bring this ethos to Hong Kong, launching a brand new charity, Mind Hong Kong (Mind HK) which is committed to decreasing stigma and increasing awareness of the vital importance of good mental health. The localisation and translation of Mind resources into informative, sophisticated, person-focussed literature in traditional Chinese, as well as a community directory, were the first steps in what became a series of increasingly high – impact Mind HK mental health programmes.
PCF also helped found the City Mental Health Alliance (CMHA), which tackles mental health issues in Hong Kong’s financial and business community. MindHK continues to work closely with the CMHA and together they have succeeded in changing the way employers in Hong Kong support mental health in the work place.
In November 2017 we held the first MindHK Hong Kong Conference to galvanise interest and attention for what we knew would be a multi- year, resource-intensive effort. This three-day integrative, multi-disciplinary event attracted delegates from a wide range of professional fields including medical, educational, business, legal-judiciary and the media. Speakers drawn from leading international institutions at the forefront of research, combined with individuals who had lived experience of mental health and stigma, brought the whole topic – and the special challenges facing Hong Kong – into sharp relief.
The understanding that mental health affects all in society flowed strongly throughout a conference dedicated to de-stigmatisation and at finding practical, creative pathways to improve mental health provision for all in Hong Kong. The third day was an open forum for the public, allowing local resources and facilities to be highlighted for those in need, together with more information and education.
Mind HK is now Hong Kong’s leading mental health charity; the breadth and depth of the resources it now provides to the community can be seen at www.mind.org.hk.
Dr Lucy Lord continues to volunteer many hours per week as Executive Chair of MIND HK and remains responsible, together with its Board and advisors, for its strategic direction, its community programs and its fundraising.
In 2021 Mind HK launched its most ambitious project to date: the Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner (PWP) training programme. This equips trainees with the skills needed to provide free of charge, short term 1:1 interventions for those experiencing mild to moderate problems such as anxiety and depression who can benefit from access to early mental health support. Similar programmes overseas find that 50 to 70 percent of patients achieve recovery status. In 2022 the first cohort of 50 Youth Wellbeing Practitioners were trained to support individuals between the ages of 12 and 24. They are now placed in 21 schools and universities across Hong Kong, as well as in eight NGOs, all offering free, ground-level mental health support to young people. Mind HK then followed up by creating its first online mental health services platform, www.iact.hk, offering another easily accessible channel to provide 1:1 support for young people. In 2023 successive cohorts of newly qualified trainees will enable the PWP programme to be expanded to cover all age groups.