HK$30m donation spurs mental health campaign

PUBLISHED : Friday, 04 August, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 04 August, 2006, 12:00am

An injection of private funding means the Chinese University will be able to unleash a bold initiative in public awareness and research of psychiatric disorders.

According to Professor Sing Lee of the Hong Kong Mood Disorders Centre, about 70 per cent of people who suffer from depression or anxiety do not receive treatment.

This is due to a number of reasons, including a lack of trained counsellors and the social stigma attached to this kind of illness.

Now a private company has stumped up HK$30 million to highlight the problem and inform the public and the medical sector of options for treatment.

The SHKP Mental Health Alliance is funded by property developer Sun Hung Kai Properties and its managing director, Raymond Kwok Ping-luen.

The two-year programme will provide funds to three university centres to increase public awareness about the illnesses, provide training for professionals and carry out treatment research.

Early next month the Hong Kong Mood Disorders Centre, one of the three centres, will publish Hong Kong's first mental health magazine, Sundae Mood, every two months. It will be distributed to schools, clinics, government departments and non-government organisations.

The centre will run six campaigns, each covering a certain mood disorder. It will deliver health talks throughout the city and run a multi-media advertising campaign to educate the public.

People will be able to phone a hotline for help.

The other two centres - the Department of Psychology's Clinical and Health Psychology Centre and Department of Social Work's Family and Group Practice Research Centre - will join forces to host seminars for schools and organisations and produce television and radio programmes on the subject.

They will publish treatment manuals and provide advanced and up-to-date training for clinical psychologists, teachers and social workers. They will also study new methods of treatment.

All three centres say that they have wanted to do these programmes for years, but without money it had been impossible.

'Each multimedia campaign costs more than HK$1 million. We couldn't do it, even though we have had the ideas for years. Academics have no money to do this,' Professor Lee said.

'With the money we can hire professionals including clinical psychologists and clinical social workers as our trainers, and help to research treatment methods. After the research is done, we can share the results with the field,' said Fanny Cheung Mui-ching, professor of psychology, and SHKP mental health alliance programme director.

SHKP's Mr Kwok said the recent spate of family tragedies in Hong Kong, along with knowing people who were experiencing personal difficulties, had inspired him to become involved.