Survey findings prompt expert to warn of risk of developing psychological illnesses Many students are at risk of psychological illnesses, a leading child psychologist warned yesterday after a survey showed three out of four have unhealthy minds. Wong Chung-kwong, chairman of Whole Person Education Foundation, said students who were not psychologically healthy would be prone to depression and anxiety when facing increasing pressure or encountering difficulties. A foundation survey, which questioned 4,500 students from 19 schools between March and September, assessed the respondents' psychological qualities through questions involving self-value, perceptions, emotions and lifestyles. It found only 24 per cent of respondents were psychologically healthy, while 76 per cent, or 3,420 students, suffered from psychological problems of differing degrees. Of the 3,420 students with unhealthy minds, 900 were diagnosed as suffering psychological illness that require medical treatment. He warned that the problems of the remaining 2,520 students would be exacerbated if they were not taught how to handle adversity and did not have the correct sense of values and self-respect. 'Suicides, school violence and crimes are all rooted in poor psychological qualities,' Dr Wong said. The study confirmed the results of a foundation survey last year that polled 1,600 students on their psychological quality and showed about 24 per cent had healthy minds, he said. He attributed the low percentage to the fact that students had not been trained to be self-confident and optimistic in dealing with adversity. Dr Wong said: 'A healthy mind is like a healthy body. You can have a healthy body by doing a lot of exercise. The same is true for your mind.' Other factors leading to students' poor mental health included the city's poor social atmosphere and the fact that many adults were not psychologically healthy. 'Society's violence and high pressure affect students' thinking,' he said. There was a pressing need to educate students to have strong and healthy minds, otherwise 'their problems will accumulate and explode when they turn into adults'. The study found that the psychological health of students was directly related to their learning attitudes and to their personal relationships. 'If parents are to boost their children's academic results, improving their psychological health will be an effective way to achieve this,' he said. One of those who sometimes feels frustrated is Cheng Chui-wan, a Form One student at the Fung Kai Liu Yun Sum Memorial School. She said she had developed a habit of arguing with classmates and had difficulties with her homework. She was unhappy after arguing with friends. 'After taking part in voluntary community services last year, I have learned to put myself in their shoes,' she said.