Research Topic: Understanding empowerment of people with severe mental illness in the community: Through the eyes of social work practitioners in Sydney and Hong Kong
Supervisors: A/Prof Limin Mao, A/Prof Christy Newman
Angela gained a BSW from Peking University and an MSSC in Social Work from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. She commenced her PhD at CSRH in August 2015. She is a recipient of a Distinguished Academic Scholarship from CUHK, and currently a holder of APA and UNSW FASS Top-Up Scholarship. Angela is a registered social worker with AASW and a Hong Kong registered social worker. She has worked in several NGOs in HK, and has extensive experience in mental health care services and disability advocacy.
Empowerment is widely considered to be a central principle guiding both social work practice and recovery approaches in the mental health field. The research will explore social work understandings of empowerment, particularly as social workers are guided by professional values which closely align with those informing recovery discourse. However, they are often positioned below medical professionals in clinical hierarchy and must navigate between the ideals of recovery and the dominance of medical discourse. Thus another aim is to explore the role of and limitations experienced by them in empowering users. Finally, the research will be conducted in HK and Sydney to gain insights regarding differences in these issues across settings, and across individual, organizational and societal levels. By examining these contributing factors, the research informs strategies for the social work profession in contributing to policy/ practice and in promoting the meaningful empowerment of consumers.