Published: 17:52, June 10, 2023 | Updated: 09:19, June 11, 2023
Mental health: HK govt proposes 10 measures to support residents
By Wang Zhan

In this June 3, 2023 photo, a member of the public pays tribute at a shopping mall in Diamond Hill in Hong Kong, a day after two persons were stabbed to death by a man reportedly with a history of mental illness. (PHOTO / AP)

HONG KONG – The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government has proposed 10 enhanced measures in a bid to offer more comprehensive support to people in mental recovery with a history of severe mental disorders and other people with mental health needs.

Acting Secretary for Health Dr Libby Lee announced the measures after attending the Advisory Committee on Mental Health’s urgent meeting on Friday evening.

It was held to explore ways to address mental health issues with a more safe and comprehensive approach and make recommendations to the government in light of a June 2 knife attack by a man reportedly with a history of mental illness, according to a government statement.

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Five of the enhanced measures focus on supporting people in mental recovery with a history of severe mental disorders

The 39-year-old man stabbed two women, aged 22 and 26, in broad daylight in front of a cosmetics shop at Plaza Hollywood shopping mall in Diamond Hill, leading to their death.

Five of the enhanced measures focus on supporting people in mental recovery with a history of severe mental disorders.

Speaking on the measures, Dr Lee said the Hospital Authority (HA) will enhance manpower to optimize the ratio of case managers to patients with severe mental illness under the case management program to no higher than 1:40 by the fourth quarter of this year.

It will explore the wider use of newer oral drugs or injections with fewer side effects for psychiatric patients in need to facilitate better medication compliance.

The HA will also set clearer targets for the median waiting time for new cases at psychiatric specialist outpatient clinics, with those triaged as urgent to be kept within one week and semi-urgent cases to be kept within four weeks.

Dr Lee also said the HA and the Social Welfare Department will enhance communication in case management, which includes exploring more frequent exchanges on cases they jointly handle.

The HA will complete the review of the conditional discharge mechanism under the Mental Health Ordinance soon and will report the findings to the committee next month.

The SAR government will also invite the committee to explore the community treatment order’s feasibility and effectiveness, and make recommendations.

The other five enhanced measures aim to support other people with mental health needs, said Dr Lee.

Individual District Health Centers will explore introducing a pilot scheme to provide mental health assessment for members of the public in need, and collaborate with community organizations for providing follow-up as well as early referral for high-risk cases.

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The department will enhance the services of integrated community centers for mental wellness to boost support for people with mental health needs, including strengthening early identification of people with mental health needs and early intervention.

It will also explore enhancing social worker training in community mental health services.

She added that the Health Bureau will expedite setting up a mental health support hotline within this year.

The government will also strengthen the support for the mental health needs of specific groups including low-income and ethnic minority families.

The bureau is actively liaising with non-government organizations to set up a service center to provide emotional support and counselling for ethnic minorities, which is expected to commence operation within this year. 

The government will also explore the possibility of leveraging the district network and service experience of care teams to participate in assisting and supporting the relevant measures.