Although awareness of mental health issues is steadily increasing in Hong Kong, cultural barriers persist, preventing some ethnic minority Hong Kong residents from obtaining the help and support they need.
In January 2023, Prof. Naubahar SHARIF, Acting Head of the Division of Public Policy (PPOL), was granted funding of HK$4 million in total from the HKSAR Government’s Health Bureau’s Mental Health Initiatives Funding Scheme (Phase 2) for his two new initiatives.
One project, “Strengthening Family Relationships for Hong Kong’s Ethnic Minority Communities in the Aftermath of the COVID-19 Pandemic”, aims to enhance the mental health and well-being of ethnic minority families. Various forms of family-oriented support and training will be offered to improve harmony and relationships among ethnic minority families in Hong Kong, with the expected outcome of enhancing understanding of conflict management and communication strategies within a familial context, thereby building participants’ resilience when dealing with family-related issues and distress.
His second project, “Supporting Ethnic Minority Elderly with Mental Health Needs”, aims to bridge the gap between the ethnic minority elderly and mental health support services in Hong Kong to facilitate early intervention in cases involving mental wellness issues. In this project, activities including storytelling and “Tai Chi” physical exercises will be offered to encourage the ethnic minority elderly to share the challenges they face and learn how to manage and cope with their mental health issues.
Prof. Naubahar SHARIF will join hands with community organizations and partners, such as The India Association of Hong Kong, The Pakistan Association of Hong Kong, and Hong Kong Christian Service, to implement these projects, hoping to raise awareness of mental wellness, provide resources and services that are inclusive and culturally sensitive, and thus have a positive impact on ethnic minority communities in Hong Kong.