Almost half of Hong Kong secondary school students demonstrated symptoms of depression, an NGO has found, while more than 70 per cent of respondents said they had a poor relationship with their parents.

Student secondary school
Hong Kong secondary school students. File photo: GovHK.

The Baptist Oi Kwan Social Service announced the results of a recent survey of students’ mental health and well-being at a press briefing on Sunday. The NGO interviewed 1,192 secondary school students between last October and June.

The survey found that 48 per cent of respondents showed symptoms of depression, such as feeling hopeless about the future or a loss of pleasure. Some 36 per cent displayed moderate to very severe signs of depression.

Additionally, 51 per cent of those interviewed were found to have symptoms of anxiety – including being afraid of embarrassing themselves, dry mouth and trembling – and required professional help.

Ivan Fang, a committee member of the NGO said mental stress often stemmed from dissatisfaction with daily life. As for the students who responded to the survey, they were most upset about the Covid-19 pandemic, their education and the state of society.

Family issues

Meanwhile, the survey revealed that more than 70 per cent of respondents said they had a poor relationship with their parents. These students’ mental health was significantly worse.

The service head of the NGO’s Integrated Mental Health Services Scarlet Poon said worst impact on teenagers’ psychological well-being would be when they were blamed for their parents’ problems.

HKDSE 2022 Covid-19 school exam
A Hong Kong secondary school. File photo: Lea Mok/HKFP.

Mr. M, whose 19-year-old son that suffered from anxiety and depression, also shared his experiences during the press meeting.

He said his son had refused to attend school for three to four years after he was diagnosed with anxiety disorders. When he tried to force his son to go to school, M said it had caused the teenager to develop depression.

The situation, however, improved when M decided to retire early, encouraged his son to join a football team and worked on improving their relationship. His son had then been willing to continue his studied with the Vocational Training Council two years ago.

“A good parent-children relationship is to walk together with the child, and understand the child’s inner feelings… instead of being authoritative,” he said.

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Peter Lee is a reporter for HKFP. He was previously a freelance journalist at Initium, covering political and court news. He holds a Global Communication bachelor degree from CUHK.