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Speech by SLW at CENTRAL Rat Race 2014 (English only)

     Following is the speech by the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, at the CENTRAL Rat Race 2014 organised by Hongkong Land today (October 19):

Mr Y K Pang (Chief Executive of Hongkong Land), Mr Raymond Chow (Executive Director of Hongkong Land), Mr Adam Keswick (Governor of MINDSET), Mr Kennedy Liu (Vice Chairman of the Hong Kong Council of Social Service), Mr Yip Wing-shing (Chairman of Central and Western District Council), Mr Chan Hok-fung (Vice Chairman of Central and Western District Council), distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

     It gives me great pleasure to take part in the CENTRAL Rat Race 2014 organised by Hongkong Land. I am honoured indeed to meet, and address, such a distinguished gathering of civic-spirited corporate executives from multinational and local business firms, as well as our dynamic younger generation.

     To live in a fast-paced city like Hong Kong, keeping our mental health is just as important as maintaining physical fitness. Over the years, this meaningful event has become one of Hong Kong's signature charity initiatives. It has raised over $18.64 million for MINDSET to support mental health-related organisations and projects in Hong Kong and on the Mainland since 2006.

     Let me take this opportunity to thank all the Jardine Ambassadors of MINDSET for your enthusiasm and efforts in raising public awareness of mental health issues, as well as supporting persons recovering from mental illness to integrate into society in collaboration with rehabilitation non-governmental organisations and academic bodies.

     The Government attaches great importance to the well-being of persons with disabilities. The total annual recurrent government expenditure on rehabilitation services has risen from $2.8 billion in 2007-08 to $5.1 billion this year, up by a notable 82 per cent.

     The Government is also keenly aware of the needs of persons with mental health problems and their families or carers. We keep under regular review the provision of community mental health services in response to changing demand. As you may be aware, since October 2010, the Integrated Community Centres for Mental Wellness (ICCMWs) in all 18 districts throughout Hong Kong have provided one-stop and accessible mental health support services. These range from prevention to crisis management for discharged mental patients, persons with suspected mental health problems, their families or carers and residents living in the community.

     By the end of June this year, over 39 000 discharged mental patients and persons with suspected mental health problems had received services from the 24 centres. During this period, around 9 300 public education and publicity programmes were organised, benefitting more than 493 000 people. This favourable output reflects that the services have been well received by the public and service users.

     Over the past few years, the Government has been injecting additional resources into the Hospital Authority (HA) and Social Welfare Department (SWD) to enhance the provision of mental health services.  This year, the HA has extended its Case Management Programme for severely mentally ill patients to the 18 districts across the territory. Additional resources of $9.3 million have also been provided to the ICCMWs in 2014-15 to strengthen their manpower to serve more persons in need. With the additional resources, the total annual subvention for the ICCMW service has reached $205 million. Moreover, the SWD has since 2005-06 increased the number of psychiatric medical social workers by 46 per cent to tie in with the HA's various initiatives on mental health services and to assist the mentally ill persons and their families/ carers to overcome the difficulties and stresses arising from mental illness.

     Given the growing demand for community mental health support services, the Government will continue to enhance service quality and provide additional resources to meet rising service demand. In tandem, the Government will reinforce collaboration with various sectors, including the business sector, rehabilitation sector and local community in promoting mental health.

     I am sure that with the concerted efforts of the community, we can make Hong Kong a more caring, compassionate, inclusive and healthy city.

     In closing, let me thank Hongkong Land most warmly for staging this charity event. My thanks also go to MINDSET for its sterling contribution in enhancing public awareness of the importance of mental health.

     I wish the CENTRAL Rat Race 2014 every success and everyone here a memorable and fun run! Thank you.

Ends/Sunday, October 19, 2014
Issued at HKT 10:25


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