Letters to the Editor, November 9, 2017

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 09 November, 2017, 4:50pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 09 November, 2017, 4:50pm

Carrie Lam shows way on mental health

The opening of the Hong Kong Mental Health Conference by Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, at the Hong Kong Academy of Medicine on November 3, marked a sea change in the attitude to tackling the stigma surrounding mental illness in this city.

Mental health problems are a big challenge for society but, through a more community-based mental health service, and enhanced social contact and understanding between the public and those struggling with such conditions, the stigma can be reduced.

Lam showed the way by her stated determination to take meaningful action to reduce the treatment gap for people with mental health problems, and develop community-based and community-driven solutions.

She joined the conference organisers, speakers and attendees in calling for greater understanding and acceptance of people struggling with mental health issues.

I hope the people of Hong Kong can join this mission to be compassionate to those it fears, often without good reason.

Professor Paul Crawford, director, Centre for Social Futures, Institute of Mental Health,

University of Nottingham

Drastic steps needed from polluted capital

I refer to your article on air pollution expected to abate in the ­national capital during the visit of the US president (“Beijing’s smog-choked skies to clear just in time for Donald Trump to sweep into town”, ­November 6).

Severe air pollution in Beijing and nearby cities is ­affecting the health of residents. The government should not just be imposing strict pollution control measures to ease the severe smog when the capital holds high-profile events, like the visit of a dignitary. It needs to find a long-term ­solution.

I understand that factories help with the country’s ­economic development. But tight controls on emissions must be in place and they must be ­enforced, to crack down on vehicles and ­factories with ­consistently high emissions.

Much more must also be done in the area of renewable energy, so that the country can eventually end its reliance on coal, which is a ­major polluter.

Incentives should be offered for the use of renewable energy and the level of public awareness must also be raised, so that all citizens work together to ­ensure cleaner air in Beijing.

Further delays are just not acceptable. The central government has to take swift action for the sake of its citizens and their long-term health.

Christine Fung Ka-wing, Tsing Yi

Parents have to teach healthy eating habits

Many children don’t like to eat their vegetables and push them to one side on the plate. This is a bad habit that, if continued through life, can have serious consequences when they are older (“Teenagers in Hong Kong don’t get enough fruit, vegetables or exercise and risk strokes in later life”, October 29).

What is important is for young people to develop healthy eating habits at an early age, and parents are key to ­making this happen.

They can try to make vegetables look more appealing and maybe even put them in a blender and put them on top of the steak that the children are keen to eat.

They can also lead by example, having vegetables as often as possible during meal times and emphasising the importance of eating them, so that children get into the habit of having vegetables (and fruit) as part of a ­balanced and healthy diet.

With fruit, they can make fruit drinks like smoothies, which children would really enjoy. The earlier that children start eating fruit and vegetables, the sooner it will become part of their diet.

Teresa Ng, Hang Hau

Rote learning giving rise to negativity

I am concerned that the Hong Kong education system is resulting in many young people losing their appetite for learning. They endure a focus on rote-learning at school. Often, by the time they get to university, they see a ­degree as just a way to get a good job. Unless there is some change in the school syllabus, we will keep producing youngsters with this negative attitude.

Becky Lau Nga-ting, Kwai Chung

School work is a source of unhappiness

Too much emphasis is placed on academic results in Hong Kong. Surveys have showed that the level of happiness of schoolchildren has dropped, and this is hardly surprising given their heavy workload.

Changes are needed in the education system, but I do not see that happening in the short term. Pupils in the city will have to ­continue to put up with often high levels of stress. The spoon-feeding form of teaching does not help. Teachers and parents can often have unrealistically high expectations of children.

Youngsters are told that the main purpose of being in secondary school is to do well in the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education and get a ­university place.

They have a heavy workload and for some this can lead to health problems.

If, in the short term, the system is not likely to be reformed, then teachers have to step in.

They have to help youngsters develop coping mechanisms so that they can deal better with the pressure of school life.

Pupils can be taught to develop suitable time-management skills. There must also be more ­counsellors in schools.

Rachel Hui, Yau Yat Chuen