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Reintegration into society
Mental patients on their way home

By Phoebe Wong

When recovered mental patients try to reintegrate into society, they and their families face great pressure.

Mr. Mok Yu Lok, 72, has a son, 44, who has experienced the symptoms of manic depression on and off since 1976.

When he was first told that his son had this condition, he could hardly accept the reality.

His son got a place at Polytechnic University in 1976. He studied for a high diploma in electrical engineering.

“When he became more stable, he tried to adapt to school life again. But he failed.

“He suffered from fatigue, thirst and shaking hands because of the medicine. He just could not concentrate on his studies.”

Mr. Mok’s son once lied to him in order  to make him less worried.

“He told me that he had gone to school, but actually he just wandered around.”

He stopped taking medicine due to the unpleasant side effects.

However, once he stopped, his mental condition became unstable and he was admitted to hospital again.

Mr. Mok said that he was heartbroken at that time.

Owing to great anxiety, Mr. Mok senior began experiencing severe anxiety attacks 2 years later.

Mr. Mok then had the unhappy experience of being discriminated against.

Said he: “I was disappointed when my boss was so indifferent to my illness.

“I resigned immediately.”

He said, “I do not care if people have prejudice against mental patients.

“When they do so, their moral ground is limited.”

In spite of his personal problems, Mr. Mok has a positive attitude towards life.

“I do not think that I am the most unfortunate person in the world,” said he.

To reduce the pressure, Mr. Mok participates in many activities.

Said he: “In 1993, I joined the Hong Kong Association of Relatives for Mental Health.

“I could share my experience and get to understand more about mental patients.” 

Besides active participation in community services, family support is also essential to mental patients’ recovery.   

Mr. Tsui Ho Yin, 41, suffered from a mental illness 20 years ago, but he has recovered.

Patience and concern are of the utmost importance, said his sister, Ms. Tsui Suet Ching.

“I always talk to him and let him express himself,” she said.

“He was good at drawing before he had an illness.

“Even though he could not draw as well as before, I would still encourage him to draw,” added Ms. Tsui.

Mr. Tsui had been living in the Castle Peak Hospital for almost 10 years.

Owing to the lack of contact with  outsiders, Ms. Tsui said that the main problem of her brother was the lack of confidence.

Said Mr. Tsui, “Whenever I encounter problems, I do not ask the manager as I am afraid of punishment.” 

Now, Mr. Tsui has been living in a halfway hostel in Wong Tai Sin.

In the hostel, residents first learn to deal with the basics of everyday life such as eating regularly at the communal dining hall.

Ms. Tsui said that her brother had learnt to live and communicate with others in the hostel.

Said she:“At home, Ho Yin is spoiled by us.

“He must learn to return to society and get accustomed to its ways.

“Isolating him from the real world will only hinder him from recovery.”

Only by acceptance and encouragement from the general public, can these mental patients find their ways home.

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Courtesy of Tsui Ho Yin & Tsui Suet Ching

With support from his sister (left) and mother (right), Mr. Tsui goes through the painful process of reintegration into society.