Experts Note a Sharp Increase in Mentally Ill Hong Kong Youth

n a dramatic announcement, the Straits Times revealed on April 2017 that Hong Kong’s rates of mental illness among young people have risen by over 50% in just 5 years. The sharp increase in mentally ill youth is shocking, and the report from the Hong Kong Review Committee on Mental Health makes a number of recommendations to address the growing problem.

REVEALING THE RISE IN MENTAL ILLNESS AMONG YOUTH

According to the 247-page report, issued from the Hong Kong Review Committee on Mental Health, the number of cases of mental illness among children and teens is more than 50 percent higher than it was five years ago. The Hong Kong Health Authority’s teams of child psychiatrists and adolescent psychiatrists have been swamped with a much heavier caseload — around 18,900 cases in 2011–2012, and then 28,800 in 2015–2016.

IDENTIFYING MENTAL HEALTH CONDITIONS AMONG HONG KONG’S YOUTH

The children and teens whose cases were covered in the report suffer from a wide range of disorders and mental illnesses. Some of them are on the autism spectrum, others have attention deficit disorder (ADD) or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Others suffer from depression and anxiety.
Some experts are linking these numbers to another report, one that came from the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 2003. The WHO report states that up to 20 percent of children around the world suffer from disabling mental illness. In Hong Kong, the situation seems to be worse.

FUNDING BETTER MENTAL HEALTH CARE

To address these new findings, the Hong Kong Hospital Authority is diverting funds to boost the mental health budget. In contrast to 2011–2012’s budget of $3.4 billion, the 2016–2017 budget was $4.7 billion. In addition, the Hospital Authority has added more professionals to provide psychiatric services, bringing those numbers up by about 15 percent from five years ago.

REVIEWING MENTAL HEALTH IN SINGAPORE

The rise of mental illness among young people isn’t limited to Hong Kong. Singapore’s population is also suffering from more cases of mental distress and mental illness among children and teens. Between the years of 2014 and 2016, the numbers of teens calling the Samaritans of Singapore suicide hotline has doubled.

PREVENTING MENTAL ILLNESS AMONG YOUTH

According to the WHO, prevention and early detection are extremely important to ensure a child’s future mental health. Providing a secure, supportive home environment and ensuring safety and support at school are two vital components of raising a mentally healthy child. Good parenting, healthy personal relationships, community activities, and positive social interaction help children and teens develop good mental health as well.

SEEKING HELP FROM A SINGAPORE PSYCHIATRIST

Sometimes, however, the factors affecting your child’s mental health are beyond your control, or have already occurred. Are you concerned about the mental health of a young person you know? Bring your child or teen to Adelphi Psych Medicine Clinic, where they can be assessed and receive counselling in a safe, confidential environment.

News Feed from Adelphi Psych Medicine Clinic

Source: The Straits Times, 22 April 2017