Half of patients who have recovered from mental illness have found jobs, according to a hospital survey. In July, Pamela Youde Nethersole Eastern Hospital in Chai Wan interviewed 201 people who attended its psychiatric department's outpatient clinic. It found 53 per cent were employed. 'It's a misconception that psychiatric patients are society's burden,' senior medical officer Dr Yeung Wai-song said. Once recovered, they are capable of returning to the workforce, the psychiatrist said. The majority of respondents - 95 per cent - were still on medication and returned for check-ups. Some 41.5 per cent of respondents had been ill for two years or less, 20 per cent for two to five years, and the remainder five years or more. Of those who had a job, 74.5 per cent worked full time and 41.5 per cent had worked for the same company more than five years. Workers tended to be cleaners or clerks, with 74.3 per cent of them earning more than HK$5,000 a month. However, the unemployed, 47 per cent of respondents, had found it difficult to get a job, and they had been jobless for an average of 41/2 years. 'The longer they remain unemployed, the harder it is for them to find a job,' Yeung said, adding it might cause them to lose confidence. One woman to succeed in getting a job was 52-year-old Fei-fei. She had been unemployed for three years before finding work as a cleaner. The Employees Retraining Board helped her sharpen her communication skills and job-searching methods. 'When I was jobless, the world looked so grey,' she said. 'It seemed everyone looked down on me and I couldn't afford to do anything.' Now, she says, 'I am not disconnected from the outside world'.