Newsletter No. 402

12 No. 402, 4.9.2012 Prof. Joyce Ma Chairman, Department of Social Work How did you get into mental health-related social work? I was fascinated by anything to do with human psychology, including portrayals of madness in film and literature, so I knew early on in life that I would be working in a related area. In the last year of my social work studies, I interned in the psychiatric unit of the United Christian Hospital. The moment I stepped into the ward, I thought, ‘This is it!’ I joined their clinic after graduation and worked there for seven years as a medical social worker. That was an excellent team and I was on the edge of my seat trying my best to learn. No two cases were the same. My patients were a mirror to me and led me to ponder many questions. Those seven years laid the direction of my career. You’ve conducted many studies that have as their subject mainland Chinese society. What topics have you covered? I studied mainly how to use family therapy to help anorexic patients. The project began in 2001 and finished over a year ago. I would spend half a day every week at the Shenzhen-Hong Kong Family Practice Centre in Nanshan Hospital in Shenzhen, providing therapy to families who needed it and doing my research in the meantime. What difficulties did you encounter conducting research and offering therapy on the mainland? There were a lot of people in need, but fewer cases than one would imagine. The general public and even medical professionals lacked knowledge about family therapy, psychological therapy, mental health, and social work, so referrals weren’t made on time. A small number of doctors would also hang on to patients to ensure an income. I knocked on quite a few closed doors in my first year there. What was communication with your subjects like? The Cultural Revolution has had far-reaching impact on the people’s psyche, and one of the effects was the lack of trust. Though my patients wanted to consult me because I was from Hong Kong, many used false names, because ultimately they were still mistrustful. They would never release information as simple as their monthly salary. Shenzhen is a city of immigrants. My subjects came from Northeastern China, Xi’an, Inner Mongolia, and Guizhou, etc. They all had different customs and traditions. It had a huge impact on me. What makes you persist in your work on the mainland? The simple belief that since we’d benefited from the teachings of the Americans and the British, or from that of Hong Kongers educated in those countries, I should spread my knowledge now that it was needed by someone else. I am considered an experienced professional in Hong Kong. The mainland experience exposes me to completely different people and environments. It offers rare inspiration, stimulus and a chance for professional growth. What is the greatest pressure faced by social workers? Our society is shrouded in populism and intolerance. It’s depressing. People ask what society owes them, what society can give to them, and not what they can do for society. Social workers do not just deal with cases, but need to grapple with the problems brought about by councillors and political sparring. It’s not only a challenge for social workers, but also for medical professionals and the rest of society. 马丽庄教授 社会工作学系系主任 你怎样跟与精神健康有关的社会工作结缘? 电影、文学里任何癫狂的事物,只要跟人的心理健康有 关的,我都觉得有趣,所以我很早已肯定自己会做相关 的工作。念社工最后一年,我在基督教联合医院精神科 实习,甫踏进病房,便知道:「是这儿了!」毕业后,我加 入其精神科诊所,当了七年医务社工。那是个非常优秀 的跨团队,我战战兢兢,尽量吸收。没有两个服务对象 是完全一样的,在接触过程中,对方成了你的镜子,令 你反思很多问题。这七年可以说奠定了我一生的事业 路向。 你常从事以内地社会为对象的研究,主要在哪方 面? 最主要是如何用家庭治疗帮助厌食症患者的研究,在 2001年展开,年多前完成了。当时我每周抽半天到深圳 南山医院的深港家庭治疗中心,边为求助家庭提供治 疗,边做研究。 在内地展开研究和治疗,可遇到什么障碍? 有需要的人很多,但案例比想像中少。因为普罗大众以 至专业医护人员对家庭治疗、心理治疗、精神健康、社 会工作等概念欠缺认识,未必懂得适时转介。此外,为 了保障收入,少数医生会抱着病人不放,头一年我可碰 了不少钉子。 和内地案主的沟通如何? 文化大革命对内地人民影响深远,欠缺信任是其一。他 们虽因我是香港人而指明要来见我,但用的却是假名, 因为骨子里还是不信任,简单至月薪等资料,他们也永 远不会告诉你真的。深圳是个移民城市,我的案主有来 自东北、西安、内蒙古、贵州等地,风俗习惯各异,带给 我很大冲击。 是什么令你坚持在内地的工作? 一个简单信念:当年,我们受惠于美国人、英国人、或一 些受过英美教育的本地学者的教导,如果有人需要我 的知识,我理所当然应该传授开去。在香港,我算是资 深的专业人员,在内地,在截然不同的环境下跟各色人 等切实接触,是激荡思考,提升专业的难得机会。 社会工作者面对最大的压力是什么? 社会笼罩着一股民粹、欠缺包容的气候,颇为郁闷。人 们问的是社会欠我多少,可以给我什么,而不是我要尽 些什么责任。社工除了服务案主外,还要处理议员和政 治角力衍生的问题。这不单是社工的挑战,对医疗专 业,以至社会整体都不是好事。 请扫描QR码阅读全文版 Scan the QR code for the full version Photos of Professor Ma in this issue are by Keith Hiro