More than half of secondary school students showed signs of depression, according to a city-wide survey covering about 10,000 pupils. Experts described the situation as "serious", with almost 20 per cent of the interviewed youngsters exhibiting moderate to severe symptoms.
Researchers from Baptist Oi Kwan Social Service (BOKSS) and the Hong Kong Institute of Education (HKIEd) interviewed 10,140 Form One to Form Six pupils in 22 schools through questionnaires between October last year and April this year. A total of 51 per cent of students said they had some depression.
"We do not see a rising trend in depression but the numbers are consistently high," said Dr Chan Siu-miu, from the HKIEd department of psychological studies. "Having 12.9 per cent of pupils moderately depressed and 6.5 per cent severely depressed is a serious condition."
The most common signs of depression were crying, change of appetite and change of sleeping pattern. "Youngsters might not be aware of the physical symptoms … They might not understand why they get irritated easily," said Chan.
Studies, pressure from the DSE exam and worries about future prospects were the three issues that troubled pupils the most.
Depression and anxiety were found to be more common among girls. "Girls' reaction to pressure was usually stronger … They might have a lower self-esteem and think they are not capable," Chan said.
Carol Lee Kit-lo, service coordinator for BOKSS, said activities such as spending time with family and friends and exercising regularly could help.
"For those who do these activities more frequently, their symptoms [of depression and anxiety] are lower," said Lee.