The Patient Care Foundation (PCF) was created in 2014, formed by a group of doctors who were passionate about improving healthcare in Hong Kong. They saw our society as a place of contrasts when it came to medical care; and wondered how some specialties were amongst the most advanced in the world, whereas others seemed neglected and almost forgotten.
The doctors identified four vulnerable groups of people, and pledged to do what they could to help improve their situations. Their targets were refugees, children who required stays in hospital, pregnant mothers-to-be, and individuals experiencing mental health difficulties.
In the two years that followed, the PCF started to tackle each of these problems in turn. The charity began educating expecting mothers on rhesus-negative blood. The doctors and associated healthcare professionals donated their time to treating refugees, and provided pro bono treatment to those most in need. The Charter for Children in Hospital was highlighted and lobbied for by the PCF with success. But when they turned their attention to mental health, the charity realized what a huge task was ahead of them.
Mental health stigma in Hong Kong is an enormous problem. The Patient Care Foundation decided to take inspiration from somewhere where stigma was less of an issue, and looked to London for ideas of how to help their own, cosmopolitan city of Hong Kong.
Mind is an established charity based in England and Wales with the mission to provide advice and support to empower anyone experiencing a mental health problem. Mind campaign tirelessly to improve services, raise awareness and promote understanding. They state that they “won’t give up until everyone experiencing a mental health problem gets support and respect”. http://www.mind.org.uk/about-us/what-we-do/
The Patient Care Foundation teamed up with Mind to bring its ethos to Hong Kong. The PCF has set up a new initiative named “Mind Hong Kong”, committed to decreasing stigma and increasing awareness of mental health difficulties. PCF has dedicated time and money to translating the informative, person-focussed literature on the Mind UK website into Cantonese, and listing the relevant services for the local area where possible. The website is now live at www.mind.org.hk
However, the PCF does not want to stop at this website. In order for mental health stigma to be combatted effectively, more active community engagement at all levels of our society is needed to create interest and promote change.
In November 2017, the first Hong Kong Mental Health Conference will be presented by the PCF. This three-day integrative, multi-disciplinary conference will attract delegates from many professional fields – including medical, education, corporate, legal-judiciary and media. Speakers at the forefront of their fields of research will combine with individuals with lived experience of mental health and stigma to bring to life topics for attendees. The belief that mental health affects us all flows strongly throughout the conference, which will be dedicated to opening up and de-stigmatising these difficulties. The final day of the conference will be an open forum for the public, allowing local resources and facilities to be highlighted to those in need, and providing information and education on mental health for all attendees.
Our conference website will shortly be online at hkmentalhealthconference.org with further information.