The government has put much effort in recent years into fostering mental health, and the related three-year promotional campaign Joyful@HK has just concluded.
At the closing ceremony of Spread the Joy last week, Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan Siu-chee said work will continue and the next wave of activities is about to start.
The Joyful campaign was the brainchild of the Advisory Group on Mental Health Promotion, set up to spearhead work in this area. Its chairman and vice-chairman are the food and health under-secretary and the director of health respectively.
The group is highly efficient and has completed many projects within a few years even if it did not meet too frequently.
It has enlisted the participation of singer-actress Sammi Cheng Sau-man as the Joyful campaign ambassador. Cheng wrote and performed the campaign theme song Through the Hurdles.
The closing ceremony also recruited artiste Elena Kong Mei-yee to share her experience in overcoming panic attacks.
Celebrities imparting powerful messages and publicity in the media have heightened public awareness of mental illness. More people are showing concern, and the issue was addressed in the annual fund-raising street dance show of Youth Outreach, a group that helps at-risk youths.
Chan observed that the chief executive's policy address highlighted the importance of education on mental health, and HK$50 million has been allocated in the budget for this purpose.
Like other health problems, mental illness requires treatment, Chan also said. The public health-care system is currently treating 220,000 patients with mental illness, with 30,000 of them young people.
There is a growing need to prevent discrimination against mental patients. In this, we are seeing results in mental well-being education, and now is the time to further inculcate the public at large with a proper attitude towards mental illness and to show more acceptance of sufferers.
Siu Sai-wo is publisher of Sing Tao Daily