Helpline good, but it's not nearly enough

PUBLISHED : Monday, 31 January, 1994, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 31 January, 1994, 12:00am

I AM writing on behalf of the Clinical Division of the Hong Kong Psychological Society.

We read with interest the January 18 article on the telephone helpline set up for women in Beijing.

We applaud this effort. We believe that it meets a very real public health need by providing front-line necessary counselling for serious mental health concerns.

In such times of rapid political and economic change, traditionally disempowered groups such as women and children are especially vulnerable to abuse or exploitation.

In these circumstances, we would expect to see pervasive and debilitating feelings of anger, frustration, depression and confusion in large segments of the population.

The powerful negative result of these feelings on individual occupational, social and family life cannot be strongly enough stated.

In the absence of effective legal recourse or social support, a helpline such as the one you described can help alleviate these feelings.

The success of the helpline, measured in terms of the number of callers, is a clear indication of the depth of the need it addresses.

While praising this effort, however, we must point out that this helpline is only a sticking plaster. The underlying social problems that cause these adverse psychological responses still exist, and must be directly addressed for the mental well-being of broad segments of the population.

We therefore support ongoing legal and political efforts to better the position of women in China, as we feel that these will serve the agenda of better mental health as well as that of a just society.

Dr URSULA WILDER Public Affairs Officer Clinical Division Hong Kong Psychological Society