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Wednesday, April 27, 2016, 00:04

HK secondary students suffer mental health problems

By Nick Li
HK secondary students suffer mental health problems
Students take exam. A survey found 27 percent of students interviewed contemplated hurting themselves - even to the point of suicide over the past six months. (Provided to China Daily )

Hong Kong secondary students suffer alarming mental health problems and show scant understanding when it comes to dealing with them, a joint survey by the Hong Kong Paediatric Society and the Hong Kong Paediatric Foundation found.

The survey results, based on questionnaire answers from 1,685 secondary school students from March 17 to April 8, showed that a worrying 27 percent of students surveyed contemplated hurting themselves - even to the point of suicide over the past six months.

About 8 percent said they had been bullied, and of that number, 40 percent reported being depressed.

Sixty-two percent of the respondents said they became morose and cried for no reason, while 63 percent said they suffered sleep disorders.

A lack of understanding about health among young people is a matter of concern, president of the Hong Kong Paediatric Society Lilian Wong Hiu-lei said.

The survey revealed that 66 percent of youngsters make futile efforts to solve their physical and mental health problems by searching the internet. They avoided seeking professional help, especially children who suffered emotional stress, or have problems with acne. About 38 percent considered the experiences of friends more reliable than doctors’ recommendations.

Wong suggested teenagers seek help from parents, teachers and social workers when they have emotional or behavioral problems. If these problems remain unsolved, they should go to medical professionals instead of trying to handle it themselves, Wong said.

Wong also emphasized the importance of training teachers to listen more carefully to what young people are saying.

Wong’s view was echoed by Charles E. Irwin, Jr., director of health policy at the Department of Pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco.

Irwin said joint efforts are needed to educate young people about how to assess the information they are given.

“We need to engage schools, community groups, health professionals, the media, the business community and government to assume more responsibility for educating the youth,” added Irwin.

The Hong Kong Paediatric Foundation’s Chairman Chan Chok-wan called on the government to develop a comprehensive and practical child health policy. He said the policy should be child-oriented and family-driven. It should focus on prevention and early intervention.

nick@chinadailyhk.com

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