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Policy direction 3:

               Hong Kong should leverage mental health support
               beyond formal care

               Beyond providing support for persons with mental health conditions and in the
               spirit of primary healthcare, the focus of the mental health system should extend to
               more upstream services that target “well” and at-risk populations, highlighting the
               importance of promotion, prevention and early identification. These services can
               be provided outside of formal care settings in everyday life. Research shows that
               Hong Kong people possess poor mental health literacy in identifying subtle mental
               health symptoms and managing these symptoms (Fung et al., 2021; Lui et al., 2016).
               The digital space and the workplace serve as desirable settings to encourage adults
               to seek help when encountering mental health conditions. Therefore, it is necessary
               to adopt a more informal approach to mental health and to develop mental health
               services that reach people in their everyday life, such as services in the digital space
               and workplace.

               Digital mental health refers to any service that uses technology to facilitate mental
               health care delivery, which may span across a continuum of care, from promotion
               and prevention to intervention and management. As digital mental health continues to
               develop in Hong Kong, it is notable that the “Shall We Talk” campaign plays a critical
               role in raising public awareness towards mental health through a series of education
               and promotion efforts. Regarding promotion and prevention, the Government should
               explore conducting a full impact study of “Shall We Talk” in promoting the public’s
               perception of mental health conditions. Additionally, to optimise the use of the online
               assessment on the “Shall We Talk” website, the Government should improve its
               signposting function to refer individuals to a specific service that matches their needs
               after an initial assessment, with an aim to lowering barriers to mental health service
               entry. Concerning intervention, monitoring, and management services, digital therapies
               and telepsychiatry services present promising opportunities.

               In concert with expanding the range of digital mental health services, the Government
               should also strengthen workplace and employee mental health. The Government’s
               efforts in providing mental health support in workplaces is demonstrated by the
               introduction of the Mental Health Workplace Charter (the Charter). In furthering these
               efforts to enhance the promotion of mental well-being in workplace settings, the
               Government should spearhead efforts through mandating bureaux and departments
               to join and sign the Charter. The Government should also commission research to
               develop a workplace psychosocial risk assessment as part of the Charter that allows
               companies to have an aggregate view of their company’s psychosocial risks and
               allows individual employees to have a gauge on their mental health. Additionally, the
               Charter should be revised to strengthen requirements for improving workplace mental
               health literacy. This may take the form of mandatory programmes, particularly at the
               managerial level. Furthermore, signatories to the Charter should be incentivised to
               provide early intervention services and training to support employees in need. Greater
               workplace support should also be given to people with mental illnesses, which may
               include training for managers on how to provide reasonable accommodations for
               persons with mental illness.
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