Mental health is about how we, driven by our brain, act and react cognitively, behaviourally and emotionally. In other words, it affects how we think, feel and behave in our daily life. Every day, most of us stay fit and normal: we can sleep, wake up, work, talk to friends, recognize our family members and know the way home. All are taken by us for granted. The absence of a mental disorder, in reality, can be a luxury for some people suffering. When our mental health is in trouble, it harms our daily living, relationship with others and even physical health such as insomnia. Looking after our mental health and avoiding conditions such as stress, depression and anxiety will be very important if we want to preserve the ability to enjoy life.
I have chaired the Mental Health Review Tribunal in Hong Kong for more than 2 years. I went to the following places almost once a week. The Tribunal is an independent body established to safeguard the rights of mental patients being detained in mental hospitals such as Castle Peak Hospital, mental wards of ordinary hospitals such as Kowloon Hospital and mental prison such as Siu Lam Psychiatric Centre. We hear cases which are either applications by the patients or referrals by an institution in respect of detainees and will decide if such persons can be discharged from the institutions back to community. The Tribunal listens to many parties including a patient, his family members, the treatment doctor and responsible social worker. Many factors are taken into account and the fundamental consideration is: will the discharge constitute a danger, or a risk of such danger, to the safety and health of the patient himself or protection of the public?