Global Mental Health: Due to the fifth wave of Covid-19, a record-breaking 75% of Hong Kong people are suffering from depression, with stress levels far exceeding Japan, Taiwan, and Malaysia.

May 02 23:57 2022
Global Mental Health: Due to the fifth wave of Covid-19, a record-breaking 75% of Hong Kong people are suffering from depression, with stress levels far exceeding Japan, Taiwan, and Malaysia.

The two-year Covid-19 pandemic has caused a significant impact on both the global and local Hong Kong economy, in addition to creating adverse effects on the lives of the populace. Ever since the fifth wave of covid-19, daily case numbers in Hong Kong have exploded rapidly. Furthermore, the unemployment rate has risen, causing increasing amounts of stress on the local populace. Prior to the pandemic, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that the number of people suffering from depression worldwide exceeded 32 million. As a result of the pandemic, this number has increased significantly by at least 25%. In order to both increase awareness of the problems caused by depression, and to increase attention towards the protection of mental health, leading Hong Kong Chamber ‘Junior Chamber International – Apex’ has conducted the “Global Mental Health Questionnaire”, using the principles from the “DSM-5 Level 2 — Depression — Adult Measure” as laid out by the American Psychiatric Association. This questionnaire creates a preliminary mental health report by inquiring about the respondent’s recent mental health situation. They aim to evaluate the effectiveness of different mental health relief measures taken by different governments worldwide and to increase awareness of depression. Hopefully using the information to propose a method to relieve the issues in Hong Kong by reporting the views and information to the relevant authorities and organizations in Hong Kong.

During a period from January to March 2022, JCI Apex has reached out to over 1300 people ranging from 18-65 years of age. Data was collected from Hong Kong, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Japan. The aim of the survey was to understand the different effects of the pandemic on the mental health of people in different regions and countries. Of the 1300 people surveyed, 620 people completed the entire questionnaire (342 from Hong Kong, 90 from Malaysia, 85 from Taiwan, 88 from Japan, and 15 from other countries). The results showed that:

1. Over half (51%) of the respondents had symptoms of depression; of those respondents, 21% exhibited moderate depression, and 4% exhibited severe depression.

2. 60% of Hong Kong respondents exhibited symptoms of depression, significantly worse than that of Japan (40%), Taiwan (18%), and Malaysia (34%).

3. The rate of depression in Hong Kong and the Hong Kong covid-19 infection rate both reached new highs in the fifth wave. The daily infection rate was 4285 cases on the 16th of February 2022 and rose rapidly to 17063 cases on the 26th of February 2022. According to published government statistics, unemployment rose by 22700 to 157900 people. After adjusting for the seasonal unemployment shifts, the unemployment rate between December 2021 and February 2022 was at 4.5%, an increase of 0.6% from the period of November 2021 to January 2022. In the same period, the rate of Hong Kong people suffering from depression rose rapidly, reaching new highs. 51.5% of Hong Kong respondents surveyed exhibited signs of depression in January, rapidly rising to 75.3% of the respondents surveyed between the 12th and the 26th of February; among which 43.4% of Hong Kong respondents exhibited signs of moderate to severe depression.

4. 32.8% of all respondents held the opinion that they never felt that they were useless; 32.1% held that they had nothing to anticipate; 34.8% felt that they were not failures, and 30.3% responded that they had never felt anger and depression.

5. 74.8% of all respondents stated that they felt helpless, and 76.8% stated that they were unhappy.

6. 56.4% of all respondents stated that they felt hopeless, while only 43.6% of respondents stated that they felt hopeful.

7. Roughly 70% of respondents stated that they felt that they were useless, had nothing to anticipate, helpless, unhappy, depressed, and sorrowful; of those respondents, 15% stated that they often felt such emotions; and 4% felt that the problem was extremely severe.

8. 42.3% of Hong Kong people stated that they would not seek medical assistance if they discovered that they suffered from depression; comparatively, the statistics of other countries/regions were 35.6% (Japan), 29.4% (Taiwan), and 23.8% (Malaysia); almost 80% of Malaysian respondents stated that they would actively seek medical assistance if they discovered that they were suffering from depression.

JCI Apex invited Dr. Wong-IP Chung Ping Susanna, the Head of the School of Psychology of Gratia Christian College, to share her experience and knowledge. Dr. Wong-IP pointed out that commonly, the root cause of depression is due to issues and problems within the family. Recent suicide statistics show that the number of suicides increased drastically in March 2022. She mentioned that suicide rates in males are higher than in females. It is believed that the phenomenon is a result of males being more unwilling to express themselves, making them more often to “solve the problem” with the “quickest way”.

Research also tells us that the low-income districts, for example, Sham Shui Po, has a higher suicide rate due to the low availability of resources. In particular, the suicide rate of children aged 0-14 is relatively high, most of which are caused by family issues. They feel helpless and hopeless when they fail to gain support from their families. Therefore, resources should be steered towards strengthening parental education and support in the future and start educating children on how to express their emotions during their early childhood. They should be taught to develop positive values and be hopeful about the future. The government needs to act to raise the sense of belonging of Hong Kong citizens.

In 2015, JCI Apex started Project Love Without Boundary, collaborating with other JCI chapters and organizations across different countries to promote and provide solutions to the most concerning the global issue of the year. The world is now severely affected by COVID-19 and Hong Kong is experiencing its darkest time in the pandemic. President Carol Wong expresses that “from the survey, she learned that depression significantly impacts the world and the general public has insufficient knowledge and awareness about depression. Therefore, JCI Apex will start Project Love Without Boundary – You’re Not Alone. The organization will partner with its Taiwan, Japan, and Malaysia chapters to organize a series of events to raise public awareness. Through online and offline forums, JCI will provide services related to mental health, psychotherapy, music therapy, and Chinese medicine consultation to support and assist the public.

About JCI Apex

JCI Apex is one of the 21 local chapters of the Junior Chamber International Hong Kong (JCIHK), which is affiliated with the worldwide leadership organization, Junior Chamber International (JCI).

“JCI Apex emerged as a local chapter in 1994. At the time of establishment, we were the first local chapter with Putonghua as our official language in the world. Membership is open to persons aged between 18 and 40. All of our members share the common belief of contributing to the betterment of the community and developing skills and social responsibility to create positive change.” President of JCI Apex, Ms. Carol Wong stated.

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Company Name: JCI APEX (Hong Kong)
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Country: HongKong