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Hong Kong schools

One in 10 Hong Kong primary pupils suffer from serious depression, survey shows

Alarming survey by the Baptist Oi Kwan Social Service predicts that more than 33,000 schoolchildren may be suffering from ‘major depressive disorder’

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 19 November, 2017, 8:33pm
UPDATED : Monday, 20 November, 2017, 4:28pm

About one in 10 primary schoolchildren in Hong Kong have symptoms of serious depression and should be given medical treatment, according to a survey of more than 1,300 pupils released on Sunday.

The survey by the Baptist Oi Kwan Social Service also found that 21.7 per cent of the schoolchildren polled complained of constant stress, up 5.5 percentage points from a similar poll last year and also a three-year high.

The agency advised parents to care more for their children, help them broaden their social circles, and teach them how to deal with bullying and say no to bullies in school.

The poll was conducted between January and March this year and covered 1,301 Primary Three to Primary Six pupils in 14 schools. The pupils were asked a set of questions about their school and family life, and the researchers measured their risks of suffering from anxiety and depression.

Half of 3,441 Hong Kong students polled show signs of depression

According to the findings, about 9.7 per cent of the pupils were found to feel down and lose interest in activities most of the time, on most days of the week – two of the major symptoms of having “major depressive disorder”.

Given that there are about 349,000 children studying in primary schools in Hong Kong, the agency deduced that more than 33,000 primary pupils suffer from major depression.

Another 3.5 per cent of pupils also showed signs of milder depression and need attention, according to the study.

That showed that 13.2 per cent of the pupils, or one out of seven, exhibited signs of depression.

More than half of Hong Kong secondary school pupils show symptoms of depression, quarter display signs of anxiety

Ester Lee Ming-lam, a clinical psychologist at the agency, said children in general did not know how to express their anxiety and asked parents to be alert should their children show unusual behaviour constantly such as not being able to sleep, being unwilling to go to school or feeling guilty for no reason.

The agency study also found 21.7 per cent of the pupils felt stressed, with the most common sources of their pressure being “too much homework”, “preparing for secondary schooling”, and “unsatisfactory academic performance”.

The agency released a separate survey in August that found more than half of the 15,000 secondary school students polled had developed signs of depression.