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. 馬麗莊教授 社會工作學系系主任 你怎樣跟與精神健康有關的社會工作結緣? 電影、文學裏任何癲狂的事物,只要跟人的心理健康有 關的,我都覺得有趣,所以我很早已肯定自己會做相關 的工作。唸社工最後一年,我在基督教聯合醫院精神科 實習,甫踏進病房,便知道:「是這兒了!」畢業後,我加 入其精神科診所,當了七年醫務社工。那是個非常優秀 的跨團隊,我戰戰兢兢,盡量吸收。沒有兩個服務對象 是完全一樣的,在接觸過程中,對方成了你的鏡子,令 你反思很多問題。這七年可以說奠定了我一生的事業 路向。 你常從事以內地社會為對象的研究,主要在哪方 面? 最主要是如何用家庭治療幫助厭食症患者的研究,在 2001年展開,年多前完成了。當時我每周抽半天到深圳 南山醫院的深港家庭治療中心,邊為求助家庭提供治 療,邊做研究。 在內地展開研究和治療,可遇到甚麼障礙? 有需要的人很多,但案例比想像中少。因為普羅大眾以 至專業醫護人員對家庭治療、心理治療、精神健康、社 會工作等概念欠缺認識,未必懂得適時轉介。此外,為 了保障收入,少數醫生會抱着病人不放,頭一年我可碰 了不少釘子。 和內地案主的溝通如何? 文化大革命對內地人民影響深遠,欠缺信任是其一。他 們雖因我是香港人而指明要來見我,但用的卻是假名, 因為骨子裏還是不信任,簡單至月薪等資料,他們也永 遠不會告訴你真的。深圳是個移民城市,我的案主有來 自東北、西安、內蒙古、貴州等地,風俗習慣各異,帶給 我很大衝擊。 是甚麼令你堅持在內地的工作? 一個簡單信念:當年,我們受惠於美國人、英國人、或一 些受過英美教育的本地學者的教導,如果有人需要我 的知識,我理所當然應該傳授開去。在香港,我算是資 深的專業人員,在內地,在截然不同的環境下跟各色人 等切實接觸,是激盪思考,提升專業的難得機會。 社會工作者面對最大的壓力是甚麼? 社會籠罩着一股民粹、欠缺包容的氣候,頗為鬱悶。人 們問的是社會欠我多少,可以給我甚麼,而不是我要盡 些甚麼責任。社工除了服務案主外,還要處理議員和政 治角力衍生的問題。這不單是社工的挑戰,對醫療專 業,以至社會整體都不是好事。 請掃描QR碼閱讀全文版 Scan the QR code for the full version Photos of Professor Ma in this issue are by Keith Hiro