How Hong Kong students can become mental health warriors for depressed peers
The number of student suicides in Hong Kong has soared in recent years. Though discussions on the mental health of students are never off the table, genuine measures and adequate supervision to help high-risk youngsters cope with their emotional problems have yet to be implemented.
While greater efforts from parents and schools are obviously expected, students themselves can help by spotting disturbed schoolmates before it is too late to get them professional help.
I think students in class are better placed to spot each others’ behavioural changes than many teachers who may seem unfriendly and keep an emotional distance because they have to assert authority.
If a student believes that a schoolmate is mentally disturbed or depressed, they should offer a helping hand, whether it’s the mere companionship of being a good listener or offering humble advice as a peer undergoing similar life experiences.
That said, deeply disturbed students should be encouraged at once to seek professional help. Help from peers should simply be to offer initial comfort and understanding, which can make a difference but cannot be a substitute for an expert’s intervention.
To help each other cope in Hong Kong’s stressful academic environment, students should try to create a more close-knit school community. An atmosphere of caring and bonding helps to strengthen the ability to cope and bolsters resilience to emotional breakdowns. It is crucial that students look out for each other.
Wing Li, Tseung Kwan O