A community organisation has launched a two-year outreach service to provide rehabilitation support to mental patients living alone. The chairman of the Society for Community Organisation, which started the programme in January, said the idea was an attempt to fill the gap in services provided by the government to mental patients after they left hospital. The society already offers a range of help to between 200 and 300 mental patients a year. 'The most serious problems they face are discrimination by society and the side effects of outdated drugs prescribed by public hospitals, which prevent them leading normal lives,' society chairman Ho Hei-wah said. He reinforced his plea by recounting his experience with his uncle, who was a mental patient. 'After discharge from hospital, he couldn't find work ... He refused medication, as it made his hands shake. In the end, he committed suicide.' Lack of support at community level is one of the obstacles to patient rehabilitation, and many recovering patients end up living isolated lives in tiny rented flats, which further hampered their recovery, Mr Ho said. Ching Wah, 48, said she had first developed symptoms of schizophrenia after giving birth to her daughter in 1991. She spent 18 months in hospital and upon her discharge, her husband divorced her and she lost custody of her child. 'The drugs affected me most of the time. My hands would shake, I couldn't think straight and I lost my job,' she said. The service, made possible with donations, hopes to recruit 30 volunteers to provide support to 30 recovering mental patients.