October 22, 2007

Depression a Common Problem in Caretakers of the Mentally ill

A new poll done by Hong Kong's family advocacy group suggests that depression is a very common problem among the family caretakers of the mentally ill. As you'll see below the challenges faced in Hong Kong are the same that are faced in other developed areas of the world. The best response to this depression is to see a doctor and get a combination of therapy (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, for example) and medications, if needed. See the link at the end of this article for resources for overcoming depression.

The poll, carried out from June this year to last month by a Hong Kong alliance promoting mental health policy, interviewed 113 people and found 70 percent were depressed, some seriously.

The respondents had family members suffering from mental illnesses, including schizophrenia and severe depression.

Patients' rights activist Pang Hung- cheong of the Society for Community Organization said the findings showed that family members who live with mentally unstable patients are under bigger pressure than those living apart.

This was because they were worried about the condition of the patients and might not know how to communicate well with them.

The survey also showed that family members were seriously depressed. ``It's a dilemma for family members because when it comes to buying better drugs for the patients, it's a heavy financial burden. If they are unable to get those drugs, they'll be under even greater emotional pressure,'' Pang said. A man, nicknamed Ah Keung, whose wife was diagnosed with schizophrenia 20 years ago, said the pressure of taking care of his wife had made him unable to concentrate on his work. He also felt hopeless as he did not have support to look after her. Lawmaker Kwok Ka-ki, who represents the medical sector, said he was worried family members forced to look after the mentally ill run a high risk of developing mental illnesses.

He accused the authorities of not allocating adequate resources to help mentally ill patients as well as those looking after them. ``The government should use resources separate from those of the Hospital Authority to help the mentally ill and their families,'' Kwok said, warning that more family tragedies could occur unless urgent action is taken. Pang urged the government to provide subsidies to those looking after mentally ill patients. He said there should be more support services, such as resource centers, training courses and day-care centers for them.

More Information:

Overcoming Depression - Resources


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