Charity calls for action after survey shows rise in teenage depression

Charity calls for action after survey shows over 40pc display symptoms

PUBLISHED : Monday, 03 September, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 03 September, 2012, 4:20am

A social service organisation has called on the government to put more resources into tackling teenagers' mental health problems after a survey showed a "worrying" number of youngsters suffer from depression.

Baptist Oi Kwan Social Service polled about 2,500 pupils from Form One to Form Five in schools across the city between last December and this April.

The results show 28 per cent exhibited mild symptoms of depression, 10 per cent had medium symptoms and six per cent showed serious symptoms.

According to psychologist Kwok Wai-wai, those with medium and serious symptoms, such as moodiness, fatigue and insomnia, should visit doctors to see if they are suffering from depression.

"The situation is worrying. The figures show that it is common for teenagers to have mental problems," Kwok said. "Depression is one of the most common reasons why teenagers commit suicide."

Kwok said that while the survey did not look into why so many teenagers had mental health issues, in her experience they were caused by teenagers finding it difficult to perform well academically or develop harmonious relationships with people at school.

The service dealt with 271 cases of teenagers with mental health problems between April last year and March this year - a big jump on previous years when the average was around 130 cases annually.

Chan Sau-kam, senior service co-ordinator at Baptist Oi Kwan, called for a Hong Kong-wide mental health survey so that the government can find out more about the problem among teenagers.

She also suggested setting up mental health service centres for teenagers across the city and hoped the government would increase subsidies for schools to hire more social workers, since many schools only have one.