People in Hong Kong can now avail of free psychiatric counseling––courtesy of diners and cafes stationed across the region!
A project called “Heartwarming Cafe” was launched in Hong Kong by the Hypnotherapy and Counselling Association of Asia. The project, which aims to lend a helping hand to those suffering from mental health issues, involves 26 diners that pledged to give free meals and counseling to visitors who want to open up about their personal struggles. The project has been running since May this year.
How do they go about this, you might ask?
The system is pretty simple: Anyone aged 18 and above can avail of the service by registering online or by phone. Once a schedule is set, a trained counseling volunteer will meet and have a talk with the diner for 90 minutes––complete with a free meal set!
After the talk, the counselor will evaluate the diner and give a recommendation as to whether the diner needs further help or not.
Franky Lam Cham-fung, owner of cafe M Zone, which is one of the 26 diners under the Heartwarming Cafe project, says he was excited to be part of the project and help out in its cause. He says he firmly believes that having someone to open up to about one’s stress and issues is a huge help when it comes to overcoming mental problems.
“I have learned from my own experiences that being able to open up to someone is key to solving mental problems,” he was quoted saying.
Franky isn’t the only one who believes in the importance of opening up about one’s personal struggles. Timothy Lam Wan-fung, president of the Hypnotherapy Counselling Centre of Hong Kong and one of the organizers of the Heartwarming Cafe project, says that early intervention is very important when it comes to dealing with mental problems.
“We have found that many mental problems can be solved by early intervention. But Asian people are relatively introverted,” he said. “Many, especially men, are hesitant to talk about their problems or can’t find people to talk to.”
Watch: A Café with a Cause
Currently, there are around 30 volunteers who work for the Heartwarming Cafe project. The team, made up of psychologists and trainees, hopes to raise public awareness on how to help those who are struggling with mental problems.
What are your thoughts on the Heartwarming Cafe project? Would you like to have one here in the Philippines, too? Send us a message at [email protected]!