AS THE FOCUS sharpens on well-being of mind, body and spirit, Hong Kong teaching institutions are increasing the number of programmes to provide a better understanding of these issues. The Division of Health and Applied Sciences at the University of Hong Kong's School of Professional and Continuing Education (Space) offers a range of short courses that include nutrition for infants and young children, nutrition in exercise and sport, and pre-natal nutrition. Space also offers certificate and foundation courses that can lead to higher professional qualifications such as the master's programme in human nutrition and dietetics. New short-term programmes include nutrition support in long-term care, understanding food and nutrition and a certificate programme in sport and exercise nutrition. Tan-Un Kian Cheng, senior programme director, Food and Nutritional Sciences/Dietetics, said there was strong demand from the community for nutrition courses, and the division was committed to ensuring the provision of high-quality courses to meet lifelong educational needs. She said the programmes emphasised continuing professional development and had high academic standards. 'The response to our certificate course in nutrition has been overwhelming. We previously offered this course once per year, but have increased the offering to three times per year to meet demand.' Most of the short courses run over six sessions. These were often attended by health-care and dietician students as a build-up to diploma and degree programmes, she said, or by non-medical students such as teachers wanting to improve their health knowledge and develop healthier lifestyles for their families. 'Hong Kong could do with more people who understand the scientific truth about nutrition. There is a lot of confusion surrounding nutrition and what nutrition or healthy habits really entail. It is rarely too late to change unhealthy habits to healthy nutrition habits.' In response to a growing interest in the link between exercise and diet, a new diploma in sport, exercise and nutrition has been added to the curriculum. A postgraduate diploma called the principle of sex counselling and sex therapy has also been added. The programme has been developed and will be taught by well-known sexologist Ng Mun-lun. Professor Ng said the programme formed the foundation for further study. There was no fieldwork or clinical practice involved, and students were not expected to become sex counsellors or therapists on the completion of the programme. However, they were expected to develop positive attitudes and confidence in discussing sex and related interpersonal issues with clients. Psychology is another topic that is gaining increasing interest. Cheuk Wai-hing, programme leader of the Open University of Hong Kong Bachelor of Social Sciences with Honours, said more than 200 students signed up for the programme each year. They could either major in psychology or do a higher diploma. Dr Cheuk said many people joined the programme to learn more about themselves or their partners. Others, such as teachers and health professionals, wished to improve their career-related prospects. 'One characteristic of psychology that any new student quickly discovers is its immense diversity,' Dr Cheuk said. For instance, just as one would expect to find clinical and counselling psychologists in hospitals helping patients with emotional and psychological problems, it was also possible to encounter industrial and organisational psychologists working for organisations trying to resolve problems of turnover and absenteeism. He said the future continued to present new challenges and pose new questions that invigorate the discipline. Among the challenges, for instance, was the advent of the internet that has changed the way we interact. In addition, the rapid breakthrough in the field of genetics could have widespread relevance for psychology in the future. 'These new challenges offer exciting prospects for newcomers in psychology,' Dr Cheuk said.