About the Speaker

Prof. Cindy Lam

The University of Hong Kong

Cindy is a specialist in family medicine providing regular public primary care services and has worked in academic family medicine for over thirty years. She is Chief Censor and Honorary Fellow of the Hong Kong College of Family Physicians. She is a member of the Steering Committee on Primary Healthcare Development and Convener of the Advisory Committee on the Primary Care Directory, Health Bureau, Government of the HKSAR. She was Danny D. B. Ho Professor in Family Medicine and Clinical Professor of the Department of Family Medicine & Primary Care, School of Clinical Medicine, Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine, the University of Hong Kong. She was the Asia Pacific Vice-Chair of the Working Parting for Mental Health of the World Organization of Family Doctors from 2017-2021. Her special interests are primary mental health care, evaluation of quality and outcomes of primary care for patients with chronic diseases and patient reported outcome assessment. She has published over 400 peer-reviewed journal papers and book chapters.


Integration of Mental Health into Primary Care – the Role of the Family Doctor 


A study by Mathers & Loncar projected depressive disorder would be one of the top three leading causes of disability and mortality in the world by 2030. A study by the WHO found wide treatment gaps in depression in that only 7% to 28% of people with depression received treatment in different regions of the world. Our local study in 2010-12 found that 10.9% of primary care patients were screened positive of depression but <25% reported ever seeking professional help. Stigma and limited access are the major barriers to mental health care. The WHO and World Organization of Family Doctors (WONCA) jointly declared that integrating mental health into primary care is the only viable way to narrow the treatment gap. To serve the purpose, WONCA has published a Guidance on six core competencies of the family doctor in primary mental health care: 1. Values of considering mental and physical health equally important; 2. Communication and interpersonal skills; 3. Assessment and diagnosis of mental health problems; 4. Management of common mental health problems; 5. Collaboration and referral; and 6. Reflective practice. A family doctor for everyone is the key to the prevention, early detection and effective treatment of mental health problems.