Growing wealth and growing pains: Child and adolescent psychiatry in Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore
Tan, S., Fung, D., Hung, S., & Rey, J. (2008). Growing wealth and growing pains: Child and adolescent psychiatry in Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore. Australasian Psychiatry, 16(3), 204-209. doi:10.1080/10398560701874283
Objective: Several Asian regions have undergone a dramatic transformation, some becoming very affluent. This paper aims to ascertain how countries that are becoming wealthy have dealt with child and adolescent mental health issues.
Method: Population health status, child and adolescent mental health services, child psychiatry training, the number of child psychiatrists and related matters were examined in Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore.
Results: Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore are ethnically, religiously, socially and politically very different. In spite of considerable wealth and a growing recognition that mental health problems in the young are increasing, they face similar problems – lack of access to treatment due to a dearth of services and a lack of child psychiatrists (2.5, 0.5 and 2.8 per million people, respectively).
Conclusions: Because the number of child psychiatrists is so small, their ability to provide services, advocate, train, maintain a professional identity, and deal with future crises is very limited. Other rapidly developing countries can learn from this experience and should take action early to prevent a similar outcome.