Hong Kong was a UK colony before 1997 but has since been a Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China. It is located in southern China and has an area of 1104 km2. Approximately 95% of Hong Kong's population is ethnic Chinese. Hong Kong is a developed capitalist economy, with a gross domestic product of US$301.6 billion (2009 estimate), of which about 5.5% is spent on healthcare and about 0.24% on mental health (World Health Organization, 2005). Despite the relatively low level of spending on healthcare, Hong Kong nevertheless has one of the longest life expectancies in the world (79.2 years for men; 84.8 years for women) and a very low infant mortality rate (2.93 per 1000 live births) (Central Intelligence Agency, 2010).
Mental health policy and legislation
There is no specific mental health policy in Hong Kong. Instead, mental health services are subsumed within the overall health service of the territory, which is directed at the Hong Kong government level by the Food and Health Bureau. The lack of a coherent mental health policy has resulted in a lack of coordination between the medical sector, which provides assessment and treatment of mental disorders, and the social sector, which provides rehabilitation and ensures reintegration and support for people recovering from mental disorders (Hong Kong College of Psychiatrists, 2007).
On the other hand, a specific mental health ordinance was enacted in Hong Kong as early as 1906, in the form of the Asylums Ordinance, which underwent several major revisions and amendment in 1950, 1960, 1988 and 1997 (Lo, 1988; Cheung, 2000), during which process it became the Mental Health Ordinance of Hong Kong, largely based on the UK Mental Health Act 1983. In its current form, this ordinance contains provisions for: the management of the property and affairs of mentally incapacitated persons; the reception, detention and treatment of patients; guardianship; the admission of persons with a mental disorder who are involved in criminal proceedings; mental health review tribunals; and issues related to consent for medical and dental treatment for persons who are mentally incapacitated.