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Hong Kong’s Mental Health Crisis

28 June 2016

Hong Kong residents struggling with depression, anxiety, or mental disabilities all too often have nowhere to turn.

Imagine you’re stressed and anxious to the point of needing help. Maybe it’s depression—job burnout, divorce, or even the death of a loved one. And now, the next step is to consult with a psychiatrist and discuss medication, along with therapy. It’s nothing abnormal.

But now, imagine you’re in Hong Kong—where, turns out, you’re competing with 20,000 others just for an appointment with one practicing psychiatrist. The latest data from the Hong Kong College of Psychiatrists shows that there are only 345 working psychiatrists as of June this year. Hong Kong has a population of just over 7 million—and it’s only getting bigger.

Dr. Roger Ng Man-kin, the co-vice president of the College, said the target is for one psychiatrist to serve a population of 10,000. But that number is still overwhelming—it’s the bare minimum acceptable standard for a developed country. “There’s a stigma about psychiatry,” Ng said, explaining why the field is so short on qualified doctors. “There’s been a lack of medical manpower for the past 10 years.”

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