Message from the President

 

It is my honour to be elected as the President of our college. The Year of 2019 is a challenging year for Hong Kong. Hong Kong has encountered an unprecedented social unrest that has a major adverse impact on the mental health of people in Hong Kong. People who are directly or indirectly involved in the prolonged social conflicts have been experiencing multiple stressors in the form of physical or psychological traumas, interpersonal conflicts arising from different political views, and financial difficulties due to economic downturn in Hong Kong. The lack of basic trust among people leads to increased interpersonal distance, increased paranoid attribution to each others’ intention, and excessive self-focus. These are known risk factors associated with poor mental health. This is perhaps no surprise to us that general mental well-being of people in Hong Kong has reached an unprecedented abyss. Such mental health impact is accompanied by an increased media interest and coverage of stress-related mental health problems and suicide in the past few months. Paradoxically, this has enhanced public concern about population mental health.

 

In response to the mental health crisis in the past few months, I have worked with my college Vice Presidents and council members, as well as our Public Awareness Committee members, in launching a time-limited mental health care programme for general public in Hong Kong (Care4ALL Programme). This programme adopts a multi-tiered strategy to address public mental health needs associated with recent social unrest. At the level of primary prevention, the college has prepared a number of posters on mental health tips for mass circulation in schools, social welfare agencies, health clinics and social media. Our college is now working closely with production companies to produce videos and advertisements promoting public mental health. Furthermore, our college has been organising public talks on stress-related disorders and ways of coping with conflicts at home, in schools and social media. Such work aims to enhance mental health resilience among the general public through enhancing problem solving skills, identifying personal cognitive biases, increasing mindful activities, managing triggers causing stress-related disorders, and increased empathy, tolerance and compassion to oneself and others. At the level of secondary prevention, our college has been delivering lectures and workshops to gatekeepers (school teachers, school social workers, insurance agents etc.) and different groups vulnerable to current social unrest (school and university students, police force, social workers, reporters, MTR corporation workers, property management staff etc.).  These workshops focus on skills specifically needed for promulgation of mental wellness policies in workplace, early identification of common mental disorders for oneself and others, tips on coping strategies for sub-threshold stress-related symptoms, as well as prompt referral of threshold disorders for evidence-based interventions. All these public and group-specific talks and workshops are provided to the participants free of charge. In order to ensure prompt referral to evidence-based treatments and to enhance acceptability and acceptability for people with distress, the third component of the programme is a time-limited psychiatric care service provided at a concessional rate for six months. The care services are provided at a concessional rate as our volunteer fellows In private practice agreed to charge only an incidental cost of not more than HKD800. At the time of writing, we have over 80 fellows, both public and private, who have expressed their interest in volunteering. This is the first time that our college fellows have joined hand and provided volunteering services for the general public. Appreciation of the Care4ALL programme has been received from the general public, mass media, government officials, school principals, and other community stakeholders. There is also a wide media coverage of our programme in TV programmes, radio host shows, and newspaper and magazine articles. The image of psychiatrists as a socially responsible and respectable profession has been greatly enhanced within the eyes of the general public. Because of our college goodwill act, we are very excited that we have received donations from philanthropists in Hong Kong to support the expenses associated with the Care4ALL programme, as well as to provide subsidies to the general public who seeks for psychiatric care from our volunteer psychiatrists. Our college needs further support from our college fellows to join the Programme in order to make it a successful one to benefit the general public of Hong Kong.  

 

One of the action plans during my Presidency is to lobby our community stakeholders in introducing mental health insurance into group and individual insurance schemes in Hong Kong. We have been collaborating with the Federation of Insurers to promote the concept and importance of mental health insurance in enhancing mental health and work productivity of employees in Hong Kong. The college has been planning to deliver talks and workshops to corporation employees on enhancing the concept and importance of mental wellness in workplaces. This will hopefully enhance awareness of the importance of mental health insurance in the eyes of corporate employers. Our college has identified a potential synergy between this objective and our current objective of promoting mental health in general public and also among community stakeholders affected directly and indirectly by the current social unrest. As such, our current Care4ALL programme public health promotion strategies have been placing additional weights on corporation employers whose staff have been adversely affected by the current social unrest (e.g. MTR corporation, property management staff, and tourism industries). Through a series of public mental health promotion work and volunteering early intervention services, it is hoped that the general public and the government will have enhanced awareness of the importance of public mental health. The image of a psychiatrist as a public mental health advocate, a nurturer of mental well-being, and a clinical leader in delivering effective evidence-based psychiatric care to patients with mental health problems will then be further consolidated in the hearts of people of Hong Kong.

 

Making our college a prominent and influential voice on public mental health in Hong Kong cannot be realised without building up our human resource capacities. This starts from the point of recruitment of medical undergraduates into psychiatry. Although recruitment of undergraduates to fill up current training posts is not a major problem in Hong Kong, recruiting the most able and dedicated undergraduates is a formidable challenge. Our college is now developing a series of videos to attract and motivate our medical students to develop interest in the field of psychiatry. Another important way to arouse interest and awareness among medical students of mental health issues is to promote mental wellness in medical schools. It is one of my action plan items in working with Departments of Psychiatry to promote mental wellness among medical students. Recruiting high calibre medical undergraduates into psychiatry also requires our college being equipped with a more valid way of selecting best possible candidates in the Education Appointment Committee. I will work with the Chairs of Education Appointment Committee and Education Committee to develop a better method of selecting the most suitable applicants for entry into our college training system. In order to enhance our image of a psychiatrist as a medical scientist, it is important to enrich our trainees and trainers in the integration of neuroscience into our training curriculum. The aim of integration is not about expecting our college fellows to become neuroscientists but rather competent psychiatrists who can explain patients’ diagnoses and treatment rationale from the perspective of neurobiological models. I am now working with the Chair of the Education Committee and the Task Force on Neuroscience Curriculum to develop a systematic strategy to promote integration of neuroscience curriculum into our training curriculum. Training cannot be teased apart from assessment. Besides, current assessments emphasise the importance of assessing ‘how to do it right’ rather than ‘what to know’. As such, our college assessments will need to explore different approaches of assessment to ensure that our trainees are able to deliver evidence based treatments to the right patients at the right time.

 

Up keeping the knowledge and skills of our qualified psychiatrists is also pivotal in maintaining a high quality workforce to safeguard the mental health of people in Hong Kong. During my presidential terms, I have been encouraging our clinical divisions to provide training workshops and lectures to update our fellows on the scientific advances in the assessment and treatment of mental disorders. Our college will work with our Academy, other regional colleges, and World Psychiatric Association to organise regional or international conferences. These conferences will bring in top-notch academia and clinicians to share their knowledge and skills in recent advances in the field of mental health and neuroscience. Such conferences will also foster international research collaboration and inter-collegial academic exchanges and mutual support.

 

I sincerely appeal to all my college inceptors, members and fellows to join hands to make our college a united organisation that endeavours to safeguard and promote the mental health of people in Hong Kong. This is a most challenging period in Hong Kong which highlights the importance of public mental health. I earnestly hope that we can all work together in various college projects and initiatives to help build our society a caring, tolerant and compassionate one.

 

 

Dr Roger Ng

President

 

 

 

 

 

You are here: Home College President's Message