The government was urged on Wednesday to provide more mental health support for the homeless.
The plea came after the number of registered street sleepers under the Social Welfare Department doubled over the past nine years.
Hong Kong Shue Yan University and a charity organisation supporting the homeless, ImpactHK, interviewed 89 street sleepers. The study revealed that roughly 60 percent of them had endured neglect, physical, emotional, or sexual abuse prior to becoming homeless.
It also found that about half of the respondents suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder.
An assistant professor of psychology at Shue Yan, Bess Lam, said the administration does not provide the homeless with enough help.
“If [about] 50 percent of them have psychological issues or mental health issues, and there are only three teams, which include only three psychiatric nurses to help those individuals, [we are lacking in this area].”
“It’s essential for the government to revise the policy, to give more resources to those people.”
She also stressed the need for the government to provide them with practical mental health services.
Lam added: "We hope that education can reduce stigma and stereotype in the general public against these homeless individuals."
Half of Hong Kong’s street sleepers have symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder but get little support, survey finds
Almost half of Hong Kong’s street sleepers show symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but just three psychiatric nurse posts exist in outreach teams funded by the government, a survey has found.
The study results, released on Wednesday, discovered that 45 per cent of street sleepers showed symptoms of PTSD, a mental illness characterised by intense reactions linked to earlier experiences, and 60 per cent said they had suffered abuse at a variety of levels.
Dr Bess Lam Yin-hung, an assistant professor in Shue Yan University’s counselling and psychology department, said the findings strengthened the link between homelessness and PTSD.
“Homelessness itself is a painful experience, they often face stress, violence, social isolation, and discrimination, and they are deprived of basic necessities and social support – these could all worsen the PTSD conditions,” she said.
“Meanwhile, the symptoms of PTSD will impede their abilities to build a stable life, like finding a job.”
The survey was carried out by the university and ImpactHK, an NGO dedicated to helping the homeless.
The two organisations carried out interviews with 89 homeless people between January and July this year.
A 48-year-old former street sleeper, identified only as Yin and speaking at an event to publicise the survey, said it was important for society to remove the stigma of homelessness and end discrimination against people who found themselves without a permanent roof over their heads.