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Health and wellness

End the stigma around depression in Hong Kong, so that more may seek help

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 02 August, 2018, 10:04pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 02 August, 2018, 10:04pm

I refer to the article, “Depressed? Can’t sleep? Chinese and British researchers find links in the brain” (July 28).

We place a lot of emphasis on personal and public health, but seem to disregard mental health, despite depression being one of the most common and severe mental health problems in Hong Kong.

What makes depression one of the most prevalent illnesses among Hongkongers? Undoubtedly, soaring pressure is the answer. Hong Kong is a fast-paced city, and all of us lead hectic lives. Hong Kong being a competitive society further exacerbates this. Most people, regardless of their age and occupation, have to battle stress. If adults are worried about stagnant social mobility and high property prices, students are burdened with a spoon-feeding education system and forced to compete for resources from as early as preschool. It is not surprising that one in 20 people in Hong Kong suffers from depression.

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Effects of depression include persistent feelings of sadness and desperation, and even insomnia. Depression leads to low self-esteem and poor self-image, and patients display impaired social skills and a lack of motivation and energy. Long-term and untreated depression can cause risky behaviour such as drug and alcohol abuse, and even cause people to self-harm or have suicidal thoughts.

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However, despite the risks, the stereotypes and stigma attached to depression deter many sufferers from getting help. People may even underestimate the seriousness of this condition. The government should provide citizens with more information about depression to help debunk the myths and misunderstandings about it. The local medical system should offer better mental health support. And society at large should take the lead to foster empathy and act to combat the stigma around depression.

Katy Law, Sha Tin