Protect Hong Kong Public's Access to Mental Health Services
Protect Hong Kong Public's Access to Mental Health Services
This petition is to inform Hong Kong residents about the current status of the Accredited Registers (AR) Scheme for Clinical Psychologists and to obtain support for overseas and Hong Kong trained, licensed and/or registered clinical psychologists, to be recognised under the AR Scheme.
This current AR Scheme has the potential to greatly affect the availability of clinical psychology services to the Hong Kong public, especially to the diverse, non-Cantonese speaking communities. According to the current proposal, most overseas trained, licensed and/or registered clinical psychologists are unable to gain direct registration, not the same as those who graduated from Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) & Hong Kong University (HKU).
- Overseas trained, licensed and/or registered clinical psychologists, as well as graduates from City University of Hong Kong will suffer the same fate as medical doctors and nurses: they will effectively be barred from practicing in Hong Kong.
- If the current proposal is enacted without change, expatriates in Hong Kong will have much more restrictive access to a psychologist that has the cultural competency and language proficiency to provide them with effective treatment. This will effectively relegate expatriates to psychological services only from clinical psychologists trained by CUHK or HKU.
- Finally, the number of clinical psychologists available to serve the Hong Kong public will further decrease, which could potentially lead to a public health crisis.
Please note: we fully support the decision to regulate the professional body of Clinical Psychologists. It is of the utmost importance to all of us to protect the public and uphold the standards of Clinical Psychologists in Hong Kong.
However, we remain concerned that this current proposal has the potential to exclude non-Cantonese speaking overseas trained Clinical Psychologists or those psychologists who did not graduate from HKU or CUHK.
With your support, we hope to succeed in our efforts to ensure that the AR Scheme for Clinical Psychologists will be inclusive and fair so as to ensure that the mental health needs of Hong Kong's diverse population can be adequately met.
The voluntary Accredited Registers (AR) Scheme for supplementary healthcare professionals was first announced in the 2016 Policy Address. The AR Scheme represents a laudable and long overdue effort to establish professional standards within allied health professions and to help the public identify qualified professionals to seek services from.
The AR Scheme is to operate under the principle of “one profession, one professional body, one register”. This means that for each profession undergoing the AR Scheme, the Accreditation Agent appointed by the Department of Health will accredit one professional body to be responsible for developing and administering the register of its profession.
It was determined two years ago that the profession of Clinical Psychologists met criteria to begin the AR process. Unfortunately, within the profession, efforts toward developing the AR Scheme have become mired by disagreements between competing, non-statutory, professional bodies representing some, but not all, clinical psychologists practicing in Hong Kong. In particular, many non-Cantonese speaking clinical psychologists, have not been represented by professional bodies, informed, or consulted at any stage of this process.
Earlier last year, one professional body, the Hong Kong Psychological Society-Division of Clinical Psychology (HKPS-DCP) was chosen by the Accreditation Agent to proceed with the AR Scheme for clinical psychologists. In May 2018, HKPS-DCP announced their proposal on the Registration Criteria and Training Standard for the AR of clinical psychologists and conducted an open consultation. This proposal by HKPS-DCP overwhelmingly favours those trained by clinical psychology programs at HKU and CUHK by granting them with direct registration without extraneous and burdensome requirements being imposed on clinical psychologists trained in other educational institutions.
So far, the process of developing the AR scheme for clinical psychologists, as well as the proposed Registration Criteria and Training Standard itself, have excluded most, if not all, non-Cantonese speaking clinical psychologists. These clinical psychologists have been trained, licensed and/or registered to practice in other countries where licensure and registration have been mandatory for decades with regulations rigorously enforced to maintain high professional and ethical standards. Yet, according to the current proposed Registration Criteria and Training Standard:
Even the most qualified and experienced doctoral-level clinical psychologists trained, licensed and/or registered in countries like the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, and Australia will be deprived of those privileges offered to clinical psychology graduates from CUHK & HKU and will have to overcome significant barriers including submitting patients’ clinical information as proof of practice, attending supervised clinical practice, remedial training and passing the related assessment and examination.
Although the current proposed Registration Criteria and Training Standard does include provisions for remedial training to gain registration, they are not defined and may effectively act to exclude non-Cantonese speakers. The following is a link to the proposal as submitted by HKPS-DCP for your reference: Current Proposed AR Scheme
While the AR Scheme is voluntary at this point, statutory regulation is the eventual goal of the AR. If the Registration Criteria and Training Standard for the voluntary AR of clinical psychologists passes as currently proposed, it is feared that it will, in the future, become the basis for statutory registration of clinical psychologists. This means that overseas trained, licensed and/or registered clinical psychologists may one day suffer the same fate as our peers in the medical and nursing fields who have been effectively prohibited from practicing in Hong Kong.
Psychotherapeutic treatment relies predominantly on verbal exchange as well as a deep knowledge of cultural competency and language proficiency necessary to treat an individual. If the current proposal is enacted without change, expatriates in Hong Kong will have limited access to a psychologist that has the cultural competency and language proficiency to provide them with effective treatment.
Not to mention, Hong Kong, as a highly developed economy, already suffers from an acute shortage of mental health professionals as a whole, which will only be made worse by the proposal as it stands now. Any steps to further restrict the already limited mental health services available to the Hong Kong public is unacceptable.
As a group, we are trying to shift the focus away from the conflicting interests of professional bodies and raise awareness of those most affected by the current proposed AR scheme - the diverse population of Hong Kong - whose needs are currently overlooked by this proposal.
By signing the petition, you are:
- Showing your support and concern for the mental health needs of the international community in Hong Kong, as many overseas trained, licensed and/or registered clinical psychologists may be excluded from practice in Hong Kong in the future.
- Showing your support for overseas trained, licensed and/or registered clinical psychologists to be recognized under the AR Scheme on equal footing as those trained in Hong Kong so as to ensure that mental health needs of the Hong Kong public can be served by as many qualified clinical psychologists as possible.
- Requesting that the Panel on Health Services of the Legislative Council of Hong Kong, as well as the Secretary and the Deputy Secretary for Food and Health of the Food and Health Bureau, include professional and lay members from the non-Cantonese speaking community in the workgroup for the AR of Clinical Psychologists.
Thank you for your time and for assisting us in sharing this petition to those around you!