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Jockey Club JoyAge International Symposium on
Care System and Social Policy for Elderly Mental Health
(3 November 2017)
Opening Remarks by Prof Sophia CHAN,
Secretary for Food and Health

Mr CHEUNG (Mr Leong CHEUNG, Executive Director, Charities and Community, The Hong Kong Jockey Club), Prof HAYWARD (Prof William HAYWARD, Dean of Social Sciences, HKU), distinguished guests, friends, ladies and gentlemen,

                Good morning.  It is my pleasure to join you at today’s “Jockey Club JoyAge International Symposium on Care System and Social Policy for Elderly Mental Health”.

2.             As you may be aware, 30% of the population in Hong Kong will be aged 65 or above by 2040, which is close to a double of the current ratio.  Given the increase in the number of elderly persons, common psychiatric syndromes affecting the elderly, including depression and dementia, have become more prevalent in the community, and there is a need for us to put more emphasis in this area.

3.             Beside providing necessary healthcare and support services, the Government has been promoting the importance of mental well-being to the people of Hong Kong.  As the saying goes, “prevention is better than cure”, the Department of Health (“DH”) launched a three-year, territory-wide mental health education and promotion campaign called “Joyful@HK” in January last year to enhance public engagement in promoting mental well-being, as well as to increase public knowledge and understanding about mental health.  The Campaign seeks to integrate the three main themes, namely “Sharing”, “Positive Mindset” and “Enjoyment” into the daily lives of the people.  To target the growing elderly population, DH has commissioned a local academic institution to develop evidence-based mental health interventions for them in collaboration with community partners under the Campaign for adoption by more service providers in the future. 

4.             I note that the topic of “depression” will be covered by some of the speakers today.  In light of the theme of WHO’s World Health Day on 7 April this year, DH has launched a series of education and promotion activities on depression targeting different age groups in the community in April with a view to enhancing their understanding on the syndrome and encouraging them to seek help as soon as possible when the need arises.

5.             In order to ensure that our mental health policies can rise to the challenges of a growing and ageing population, the Food and Health Bureau embarked on a Review on Mental Health (“the Review”) in 2013 to map out the future direction for the development of mental health services in Hong Kong having regard to the changing needs of the community.  The Review was completed in April this year and a Mental Health Review Report (“the Report”), which included, among others, a host of recommendations relating to the enhancement of mental health services for the elderly, was published.  In particular, the Report called for enhancement in “medical-social collaboration” and further integration of healthcare and social care interventions.  In this connection, the Food and Health Bureau, together with the Hospital Authority and the Social Welfare Department, launched a two-year pilot scheme called “Dementia Community Support Scheme” in February this year to provide support services to elderly with mild or moderate dementia residing in the community and their carers at district elderly community centres (“DECCs”).  As the Scheme was well-received by the elderly persons in-need and their carers, the Chief Executive  announced in the Policy Address last month that the Scheme would be regularised and expanded to all 41 DECCs across the territory. 

6.             In view of the cross-sectoral nature of mental health services, the Government will set up a standing advisory committee on mental health to ensure full integration and coherence of services provided to the patients.

7.             As the Secretary for Food and Health, to safeguard public health and provide quality medical services, will be top priorities on my health agenda.  My team and I will continue to work hard for the betterment of Hong Kong.  While the Government will continue to strive to achieve the ultimate goal of creating a mental health-friendly community, we will need your continuous support and advice.  I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Hong Kong Jockey Club and the Faculty of Social Sciences of the University of Hong Kong for putting together this meaningful event today which allows the exchange of ideas among professionals from various sectors.  I wish the Symposium every success and everyone a fruitful discussion.  Thank you.