Sunday, 11 June 2017

Why Stress Out our Children?

Children in Hong Kong are stressed out as well as their parents
It's shocking to discover Hong Kong children are more stressed out than ever, particularly concerned about their academic performance, followed by trying to meet their parents' expectations.

The Hong Kong Paediatric Society and the Hong Kong Paediatric Foundation released a damning report today saying children are suffering a worrying decline in their mental health in the past decade that is pushing their parents to a breaking point.

"There was no designated section for children in the [chief executive] policy addresses, not to mention a comprehensive child health policy and the children's commission," foundation chairman Dr Chan Chok-wan said.

The emphasis on academics is the main reason for their stress
The report said the government failed to tackle the "root causes" of declining mental health among young people, and this resulted in a "vicious cycle" in which parents are pushed to the brink of emotional breakdowns.

In the report that included surveys that asked 1,300 parents what they thought their kindergarten and primary school-aged children were stressed out about. Sixty percent of respondents said academic performance, followed by parental expectations at 50 percent. High self expectations was next at 38 percent, and socializing with friends was 26 percent.

About 70 percent of the parents admitted suffering from emotional problems as a result of childcare pressures, while almost two-thirds of parents had insomnia due to the same reasons.

Eighty-eight percent of the parents reported not getting enough support from the government.

Meanwhile the average number of child suicides is about 23 since 2010, though it increases after temporary government measures are stopped.

Leung Chai-yan has had her battle with mental illness too
Chan criticized Hong Kong's last three chief executives for "not being effective nor directional" on child welfare policies to improve the situation, and suggested Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying was the worst.

This is ironic considering his adult daughter Leung Chai-yan has been suffering from mental health issues; she was in a hospital in Sha Tin a few months ago, though there is no recent word on her status.

The foundation chairman also repeated calls for the government to have a dedicated children's commission to advocate for child welfare issues, but thinks the government would not do this because it would lead to stricter guidelines.

"There is also a perceived manpower constraint. But the children's commission would be the one which would deal with all these affairs. The money used would be much better utilized. That in the long run is the best way to handle this issue," Chan said.

There have been calls for a children's commission for many years now -- how much longer do we have to wait? It is quite obvious the education system is stressing out children and their parents rather than making learning fun and educational.

Hong Kong also doesn't have enough child psychologists to diagnose issues in children to give them timely therapy. And there is too much emphasis on academics than giving children more freedom and space to play and relax.

Are we at a breaking point now, or do we have to wait until there's a spike in child suicides before the government does anything?

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