Security firms seek guidance after death

By Chen Shen

Custodial and security staff require more specialized training to deal with individuals suffering mental health problems, a survey conducted by the University of Hong Kong Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine revealed on Tuesday.

The issue was highlighted by the slaying of a 57-year-old doorman in Sheung Shui on January 30, a case in which a former mental patient is now charged. The survey cites a number of similar incidents involving patients and security officers since 2010.

Several of the security officers who took part in the survey said, they were anxious about how to interact with people suffering from mental illness once they became aware of residents showing symptoms of psychosis.

They were particularly concerned about what to do with mentally ill individuals who became agitated.

Difficulties caused by mental patients complaining about neighbors also were ranked a major problem.

“Appropriate tone and speed of speech, enough knowledge of local psychiatric services, coupled with awareness of personal safety are high on the check list for security officers interacting with psychosis patients.” Professor Eric Chen from the Department of Psychiatry at the Queen Mary Hospital emphasized.

Project Co-ordinator Li Wansum told China Daily that apart from recruiting security officers for specialized training, the project office has received calls from security companies wanting their employees to participate in workshop sessions during office hours. Li said the volume of calls increased after the recent slaying.

The survey showed that only 64 percent of security officers could identify the common symptoms of psychosis, while 35 percent thought sudden anxiety was the main symptom.

Only half of the security officers were able to recognize symptoms of delusion, the pre-training survey revealed.

The survey was part of the Jockey Club Early Psychosis Project, which was launched in 2009, focusing on the care of psychotic patients. Workshops and training were provided to teachers, security officers, community workers and police officers. Concern about recent incidents was underscored by the fact that half of the participants were security officers.

A published Version of this story is available at: http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/hkedition/2012-02/08/content_14556771.htm

Two years ago, I had four months’ internship in Shanghai with Chinese English Mouthpiece China Daily. I  was then allocated to its Hong Kong office for two months. I wrote 150-word briefs on the basis of daily government press releases for the Metro page in Hong Kong.

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