Family aid plan for mentally ill set to expand

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 27 November, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 27 November, 2011, 12:00am


A training programme to give people the knowledge and skills to care for mentally ill family members will expand after Operation Santa Claus committed its support.

Fung Cheung-tim, director of the Richmond Fellowship of Hong Kong, estimates the charity's Project I-Proud will immediately benefit 22,750 people.

The Richmond Fellowship was set up in 1984. It focuses on rehabilitating the mentally ill and helping their family members cope with the difficulties resulting from the illness.

Fung, an expert on drug rehabilitation who joined the charity three years ago, believes the programme is vital to helping patients recover.

Operation Santa Claus is the annual fund-raising appeal jointly organised by the South China Morning Post and RTHK. Sixteen beneficiaries will receive money raised this year.

The training programme aims to teach family members about the impact and side effects of medicine taken by the mentally ill. It will also help them deal with their own emotions when handling patients.

The programme has been running since 2009, but a lack of resources has restricted its scope.

'With the support of Operation Santa Claus, we will be able to hire two social workers for this programme and significantly increase the number of beneficiaries,' said Moroco Li Yi-man, the charity's service department officer.

Richmond will provide further education to those who complete the programme, so that they can educate others at further courses.

'We want to empower family members of the mentally ill through education ... to improve their self-esteem. The hardest part for those with a mentally ill family member is accepting this reality. We hope to help them ... face it positively,' Fung said.

'Community acceptance and care is very important to the patients' recovery. We hope they can recover within the community, and not in isolation.'

Richmond has also invited people who have recovered from mental illness, along with family members, to advise staff.

The reason was obvious, Li said. 'They are the experts on how to help the patients and their families on rehabilitation.'

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