A government advisor has called for the implementation of a triage system for mental health services in the city.
The recommendation comes in the wake of a knife attack that left two women dead at a Diamond Hill shopping mall on Friday, with authorities saying the suspect has a history of mental illness. The man, 39, will appear at Kwun Tong Magistracy on Monday after police laid a holding charge of two counts of murder.
Professor Terry Lum, from the Department of Social Work and Social Administration at the University of Hong Kong, said there are only around 1,000 psychiatrists or clinical psychologists in Hong Kong.
“But we have to serve over seven million people, there's really no way to do it,” he said after attending a Commercial Radio programmme, suggesting a triage system will help to make the most of the limited resources.
"For those with mild to moderate emotional [problems], they should be handled by doctors in their own districts or family physicians. Severe cases should be referred to the Hospital Authority and treated by psychiatrists and clinical psychologists," he said.
"There is currently no such system in place, resulting in long waiting times for many individuals," the newly appointed member of Chief Executive's Policy Unit Expert Group added.
Lum said authorities can consider shortening the time between patient follow-up visits to every month or even every two weeks, but warned that simply asking staff to do more, without increasing resources and manpower, is not the way to go.
“It's not that the [mental health professionals] aren't doing anything. They are already working to the point of exhaustion,” he said.
Last updated: 2023-06-04 HKT 18:45