GOVERNMENT efforts to fight ignorance about the mentally handicapped were insufficient on their own, the Governor's wife, Mrs Lavender Patten, said yesterday. Speaking at the opening of the Hongkong Association for the Mentally Handicapped's Yuen Long Morninglight School at Fairview Park, Mrs Patten said: ''It is unfortunate that there is still resistance in some quarters to integrating mentally handicapped persons into the community. ''This often arises from inadequate understanding or prejudice caused by ignorance. ''The most effective answer to dispelling such misconceptions is further public education, and more publicity . . . I am confident that sustained public education will bring a better understanding of disabled people. ''In this respect, the Government has announced that it will step up its publicity effort this year, next year and beyond. ''But government efforts alone are not enough. Everyone in the community should play an active part in spreading the message about understanding and accepting people with all kinds of disabilities.'' Mrs Patten, the association's patron, admitted that before coming to Hongkong she knew no more than the average person about the mentally handicapped, but visits to the association's many schools, homes, training centres and workshops had taught her whatan inspiration they were to others. Association chairman Mr John Budge said the recent opposition it had experienced towards a hostel at Tung Tau Estate in Wong Tai Sin might have created the impression the public was hostile towards the mentally handicapped. He thanked the almost 400 residents of Fairview Park and indigenous leaders of Yuen Long who were on hand to demonstrate their support for the school, which caters for 100 children aged from six to 16. The school grounds are dotted with trees donated by residents. Christmas and New Year parties were laid on by residents' clubs as was all the food and drink at yesterday's official opening. A special court, similar to the Juvenile Court, should be established to handle criminal cases involving mentally handicapped people, legislators said yesterday. They also said there should be comprehensive, separate legislation for such people. At present, mentally handicapped people aged over 18 go on trial in ordinary adult courts. But most members of a working group looking at separate legislation for the mentally handicapped said the dividing line should be based on the defendant's mental, rather than physical, age.