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Tuesday, April 18, 2017, 18:45

Govt to set up mental health advisory committee


Govt to set up mental health advisory committee
Pedestrians cross a road in the Central district of Hong Kong on June 22, 2016. (Anthony Wallace / AFP)

The government will establish a standing advisory committee on mental health in the second quarter this year to work on 40 suggestions brought forward in a report, released on Tuesday, on mental health by a review committee.

The suggestions spanned in 10 areas, including developing a long-term strategy for mental health promotion, enhancing the capacity of multi-disciplinary and primary care professionals in handling mental health cases and setting up dementia support services for elderly.

The Review Committee on Mental Health, comprised by industry stakeholders of legislators, academics, health care professionals, caregivers and the Hospital Authority (HA), spent four years in reviewing the city’s policy on mental health.

"With a population of 7.3 million, mental health problems are not uncommon in Hong Kong. For a high-tempo, action-packed and densely populated city like Hong Kong, the challenges we are facing are immense and multi-faceted,” said Secretary for Food and Health Ko Wing-man, also the Chairman of the Review Committee.

Earlier, the movie Mad World became a hit when it was nominated for Best Director of the Hong Kong Film Awards. The movie features a bipolar man’s struggle in readapting into the society after being released from a mental hospital. It has also stirred up calls for the government to reinforce their support for the group who suffer from such mental health issues.

READ MORE: 'Anxious' HK needs an effective mental health body

Hong Kong Mental Morbidity Survey 2010-2013, conducted by the HA, revealed the prevalence of common mental disorders among Chinese adults aged between 16 and 75 was 13.3%. The most common disorders were mixed anxiety and depressive disorder (6.9%), followed by generalized anxiety disorder (4.2%), depressive episode (2.9%), and other anxiety disorders including panic disorders, all phobias and obsessive compulsive disorder (1.5%).

With a population of 7.3 million, mental health problems are not uncommon in Hong Kong

Ko Wing-man, Secretary for Food and Health

On the other hand, it is also notable that the demand for HA’s psychiatric services has been on the rise in recent years, with the number of patients with mental illness under its care rising from about 187,000 in 2011-12 to over 220,000 in 2015-16.

The report suggested beefing up the support for children and adolescents and their families by strengthening the service and manpower as well as support at school. In mental health service for adult, it proposed to enhance the case management program for severe and common mental disorder cases.

In facing the challenges, Ko noted that the mental health budget had increased by almost 40 percent from about HK$3.4 billion in 2011-12 to about HK $4.7 billion in 2016-17.

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The manpower for psychiatric services has also increased by about 15 percent in the past five years. An additional recurrent provision of HK$73 million will be allocated to the HA in 2017-18 for the enhancement of mental health services, according to Ko.

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