Mental health is a concern for all of us because it affects all of us. In Hong Kong, thousands of individuals and families experience mental health problems. While common conditions like anxiety and depression are estimated to impact more than 10% of the population, most will remain undiagnosed and untreated resulting in enormous health, social and economic consequences. Destigmatizing mental health conditions, ensuring access to high quality treatment and advocating for a comprehensive mental health policy are all areas that require urgent action.
Hong Kong is decades behind other global cities in addressing this issue. Mental health conditions are vastly misunderstood leading people to blame, pity or react with disgust when a neighbor, co-worker, family member or friend is diagnosed. The brain is the source and essence of who we are but it is also a complex organ no less vulnerable to disease or dysfunction than our lungs or hearts. Great strides have been made in understanding that anxiety and depression are symptoms of mood disorders in a similar way that cough and wheeze are symptoms of asthma. In most cases individuals are no more responsible for having depression in their family than asthma. This discrimination leaves people suffering in silence or waiting until a crisis occurs to seek treatment. Once an individual does reach out for help, they often encounter many obstacles to care. The public system is severely understaffed in both inpatient and outpatient settings. It is common for psychiatrists to see over 40 patients in a single morning and community case managers struggle to attend to complex needs with an average of 60 patients per caseload. Inpatient staff often must resort to outdated and inhumane practices, such as leaving patients in wrist and leg restraints for long periods of time. Even for families that can afford private care, there are few private facilities available for psychiatric care in the territory, and an understandable reluctance to get treatment in the public system.
The Patient Care Foundation will therefore partner with Mind, a respected British charity with a 65-year track record of ensuring that every person experiencing a mental health problem can access the support they need, and that every person is treated with the respect they deserve. We are working together to bring Mind’s successful model to Hong Kong. Through public campaigns to increase awareness and understanding, influencing decision makers to establish a comprehensive mental health policy and establishing Mind chapters that can provide information and resources to those in need, we can make a positive difference for people with mental health problems, their families and the Hong Kong community.
Through the efforts of Patient Care Foundation, Mind HK is now a successful charity, for more information about Mind’s work in Hong Kong, please visit Mind HK : http://www.mind.org.hk/, please also visit Mind UK : http://www.mind.org.uk/