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Suicides in Hong Kong

Parents should be in front line in caring for Hong Kong children with emotional problems, expert says

Survey shows more than 60 per cent of adults agree family support is more effective than government policies in improving children’s mental health

PUBLISHED : Monday, 22 May, 2017, 4:47pm
UPDATED : Monday, 22 May, 2017, 9:06pm

A Hong Kong psychologist has urged parents to show greater care for their children as a survey found that more than 60 per cent of respondents agreed family support was more effective than government policies in improving children’s mental health.

The call came after a wave of student suicides last year prompted public concern about the mental well-being of young people. A committee seeking to prevent student suicides submitted recommendations to the government in November last year on how to prevent further tragedies.

The proposals included training teachers and parents to become gatekeepers to making use of social media to spread positive messages.

Students at breaking point: Hong Kong announces emergency measures after 22 suicides since the start of the academic year

An online survey jointly conducted by the Victoria and Lantau chapters of Junior Chamber International Hong Kong from March to this month revealed that 64 per cent of 528 adult respondents thought the family was most effective in improving a child’s mental health. Another 21 per cent agreed that government policies could help.

The impact of the family on children is immense,” said registered psychologist Unique Choi Wing-yin, chairwoman of the Psychology Association.

Children’s values of confidence and self-esteem mostly come from parents
Unique Choi Wing-yin, Hong Kong Psychology Association

“Children’s values of confidence and self-esteem mostly come from parents.”

“The impact of the family on children is immense. Children’s values of confidence and self-esteem mostly come from parents,” said registered psychologist Unique Choi Wing-yin, who chairs the Hong Kong Psychology Association.

Choi, who helped draft the survey, said parents should show care in both words and deeds if their children are mentally distressed.

“Body language is equally important. If your child has a headache, don’t just give him or her a painkiller. Instead give them a hug or hold their hand,” she said.

Choi added that children suddenly disliking certain foods or being silent at the meal table could indicate they are experiencing emotional problems.

Survey respondents gave the government a score of 3.47 out of 10 for its efforts to improve children’s mental health, and more than 95 per cent agreed that current resources were inadequate.

Nevertheless, Choi suggested parents could take the lead in relieving their children’s stress.

“Let children do what they like for around 30 minutes a day, even playing computer games,” she said.