Mental illness is a dire issue which many individuals and societies around the world face, as seen by millions of sufferers around the world. Hong Kong is no exception, and policymakers have been working to implement policies which support the mental health needs of HK citizens. This article will delve into the current state of Mental Health Policy in HK, and discusses which key areas need to be alleviated to further development ordinances, so that they better suit the needs of our changing population.
Hong Kong's mental health policy is guided by the Mental Health Ordinance, which was last revised in 1996. The ordinance outlines the legal framework for the treatment and care of individuals with mental illnesses; however, it is widely believed that the policy needs to be updated to reflect the changing needs of society. The government has also implemented various initiatives aimed at promoting mental health, such as the establishment of the Hong Kong Mental Health Council in 2010 and the development of a mental health promotion framework in 2013.
According to this table, the number of patients across all categories being treated for psychiatric illnesses has only ever increased. This means that mental health services have to significantly improve their efficiency, manpower and accessibility in Hong Kong, especially as access to mental health services is a significant concern in Hong Kong. The demand for mental health services has been increasing in recent years, with many individuals waiting for extended periods of time to receive treatment. With the current fraught dynamic with NGOs and Government Departments battling over various services, policymakers must work to improve access to mental health services and create a more coordinated and comprehensive system of care. Even a typical health checkup at a clinic doesn’t include a comprehensive mental health checkup, which is becoming an increasingly prioritised component for many.
Education is an integral component of mental health policy, as it can help to raise awareness and reduce stigma surrounding mental illness. Currently, there is no formal mental health education curriculum in Hong Kong schools, and mental health education is not a mandatory part of teacher training programs. Policymakers must work to implement mental health education programs in schools and provide training for teachers and other professionals.
Suicide is a significant public health issue in Hong Kong, with the city having one of the highest suicide rates in the world. The government has implemented various initiatives aimed at preventing suicide, such as the institution of a 24-hour suicide prevention hotline and the development of suicide prevention guidelines. However, more needs to be done to address the root causes of suicide and provide support for at-risk individuals.
Stigma and discrimination surrounding mental illness remain pervasive in Hong Kong society. Many individuals with mental illness face discrimination in areas such as employment and housing. Policymakers should also work to address stigma and discrimination through public education campaigns and the development of policies that protect the rights of individuals with mental illness.
(www.gov.hk. “GovHK: Mental Health.” Www.gov.hk, 18 Dec. 2019, www.gov.hk/en/residents/health/mental/mentalhealth.htm.
“Three Ways to Better Address Hong Kong’s Mental Health Needs.” South China Morning Post, 13 Oct. 2022, www.scmp.com/comment/letters/article/3195197/three-ways-better-address-hong-kongs-mental-health-needs.