Academic Article 2

The First Joint International Conference of the Hong Kong College of Psychiatrists and the Royal College of Psychiatrists (UK) (13-15 December 2008 Hong Kong)


Jimmy CHIU
Chief Executive

Tea Box-Social Enterprise in Mental health care

Traditional rehabilitation model has stressed multi-disciplinary collaboration, with little mentioning of the community partnership. Employers were found to accept more physically handicapped persons than ex-mentally persons (Schneider& Dutton, 2002; Unger, 2002; Gilbride, Stensrud, Ehlers, 2000 et al) and employers in Hong Kong took a rather negative attitude towards those ex-mentally ill persons, particularly on the lack of confidence on their work performance (Chiu, 2004). Herewith we presented a pilot project of social enterprise which adopted an inclusive approach with community partnership with NGO, schools and business firms.

Teabox is one of the social enterprises in Stewards. It started first as a secondary school cafeteria in 2004 and recently ran the fourth chain-business in 2008. It emphasized on both commercial and social interest/purpose. Unlike other commercial enterprise which may run in purely commercial model, trying to maximize profits, it strived to make a surplus to meet social needs and achieve social objectives of both the trainee and the school concerned.

As the business environment in school is comparatively stable and safe, there will be positive effect for the people with disability, as they work in a relatively good working environment, to adapt themselves to a new job and earning reasonable income to maintain their decent life. TeaBox provided good employment training for the employee. Through the training and work in the TeaBoxes, people recovering from mental illness increased their economic independence, decreased their welfare dependence, enhanced their independent living skills and self-esteem, and experienced more life satisfaction in general.

It also helped the students and teachers to learn about mental illness and had live encounter with people affected by mental illness. Such educational element to the schools not only raised their consciousness to the need of good mental health, but also contributed to the overall growth and development of the students, and set the example of early preventive works against misconception and prejudice against people with mental illness. It is an enterprise contributed by and benefited to the community as a whole.