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Health and wellness

Discrimination rife in Hong Kong against those who beat mental health problems

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 02 May, 2018, 4:21pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 02 May, 2018, 4:21pm

Is discrimination considered acceptable human behaviour? As a person who has recovered from mental illness, I can see discrimination against our lot in almost every corner of society in Hong Kong.

I know families where parents and siblings label their mentally ill family members as “invalids” or “trash”. Fellow sufferers have little chance of passing job interviews if they identify themselves as mentally ill.

Should they pass the interviews, bosses and colleagues are likely to look down on them. Neighbours are also often prejudiced against those known to be mental patients. The latter are often neglected, isolated, bullied or gossiped about in an unfriendly way.

Nobody wants to be mentally sick. It is not a sin, either. But how we are treated reflects the attitude of people in general, and their lack of understanding or sympathy.

Stigma of mental health problems is where the real fight lies

The mass media has a large part to play in this. Whenever something happens that involves a mentally ill person, many outlets try to make the news report juicier by exaggerating their mental state. This gives the impression that being mentally ill is dangerous. Fear spreads in the communities and all mentally ill persons, irrespective of the severity of their problem, are victimised.

Actually, like any other person, the mentally ill also have interests, good character traits, potential and abilities of all kinds. These, however, are not known to the wider public, much less appreciated.

While individual organisations are championing equality for all, the issue of discrimination remains critical. Will there be a day when we can hold our heads high while sharing our recovery stories in public?

Jacqueline Kwan, Mid-Levels