Hong Kong Study Reveals Alarming Rates of Mental Health Issues Among Children and Elderly

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Hong Kong Study on Mental Health

Mental health crisis amongst young people in Hong Kong

The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) has recently carried out a study that revealed some saddening statistics about the mental health of kids and adolescents in Hong Kong.

The citywide study, which was commissioned by the government, showed that 24.4% of all six- to seventeen-year-olds had at least one mental disorder within the last year: this was very shocking.

Of great concern is that more than 8% of secondary school students considered suicide, thus exposing the extent of mental health challenges faced by youngsters in the region.

Professor Sandra Chan Sau-man, from the Department of Psychiatry at CUHK, is deeply troubled by these findings, as she suggested that compared to global averages there were more cases of mental health issues among young people in Hong Kong.

She believes that such high numbers are attributed to the overcrowded and stressful environment brought about by high population density and fast pace of life in Hong Kong, which put enough pressure on youngsters.

The report comes amid an increase in suicides among primary and secondary schools’ students in the area.

In this year alone, no less than twenty-eight students have committed suicide; this number is greater than what was observed last year’s thereby heightening concerns over mental well-being among young people in Hong Kong.

Facts from a Comprehensive Study

This study involved 6,082 children and teenagers including non-ethnic Chinese-speaking ones whereby interviews were conducted with both children and parents between 2019 and 2023.

Disturbingly enough, this research found out that 3.9%, 1.9%, and 1.1% had suicidal ideation, planned suicide or attempted suicide respectively.

These figures increased for secondary school students where these experiences had prevalences rates of 8.4%, 3.8%, and 2.3%.

Furthermore, sleep disorders were revealed to be clinically significant for one decade is also a major concern as it affects the overall well-being of Hong Kong’s young ones.

The most common clinical issue identified was attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), which affected 10.2% of the participants.

Disruptive impulse control and conduct disorders came second, with 8.8% suffering from such condition, followed by anxiety disorders (6.1%) and depressive disorders (5.4%).

However, astonishingly almost 50% of the caregivers failed to seek help for their children because they were afraid of negative publicity about their family or did not understand where to find it.

The Main Factors Influencing Mental Health

Professor Patrick Leung Wing-leung, in psychology at CUHK, highlighted significant factors impacting mental health among young people who participated in the survey.

He stressed out parental emotional distress, school pressure and clinically significant sleep issues as the most important factors.

In his view, parents’ emotional problems may obstruct effective child caring leading to greater fears particularly regarding educational results.

Sleep issues were another sign that mental problems were likely to develop among them in future hence need to start interventions at early stages.

Comprehensive Support and Solutions are Needed

According to Dr Hung Se-fong, an honorary clinical professor, there are multiple facets to be considered when dealing with children and adolescents facing these challenges.

Instead of just concentrating on suicide as the outcome, he suggests that holistic support systems should focus on stress management competencies, interpersonal relationships and family dynamics.

Wong Yan-lung chairman of the city’s Advisory Committee on Mental Health made recommendations that schools must give priority to students’ mental health over academic performance.

To create a supportive environment, he says resources should be provided so teacher can be empowered to protect student’s mental well-being.

Meeting Challenges Seeking Solutions

The researcher talked about the need to consider mental health in a more holistic manner.

Professor Yip stressed that it is important to move beyond merely depending on the medical system by allocating resources to schools, developing student-teacher relationships and promoting student’s resilience.

Mental disorders of old people

A separate study carried out by CUHK on elderly mental health had shocking findings. Almost 70% of those living in care homes suffered from dementia.

Similarly, almost 20% of elderly people living at home had mild neurocognitive disorder and 7.4% had a major neurocognitive disorder.

Amongst home dwelling folks, 8.6% experienced depression or anxiety disorders due to risk factors such as being female, low education level, chronic diseases and lack of ability to be physically/socially active.

In conclusion, these extensive studies conducted by CUHK are striking wake-up calls for Hong Kong society which requires immediate and substantial measures in dealing with the state of mental health among both young generations and aged individuals.

It highlights the pressing need for multifaceted support systems, fostering resilience, and prioritizing mental well-being across educational and caregiving domains in the city.

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