Wednesday, 6 June 2018

Raising Depressed and Stressed HK Youth

About one-third of young people suffer from stress, anxiety and depression
It was shocking to hear American designer Kate Spade committed suicide yesterday, drawing attention to those with mental health issues. It's too early to say what led her to take her life, but people in the fashion industry knew she had been suffering for a while.

Young Hong Kong people also have mental health issues, and the latest survey shows one in three suffer from stress, anxiety or depression. A study by Hong Kong Playground Association last month asked 3,177 young people aged six to 24 about their mental health, sleep, exercise habits, and how much time they spent online.

Lack of sleep and not enough exercise are two factors
"Young people's lives in Hong Kong are not easy. They do not have comfortable lives in this affluent society, and they each bear their own pressure," says Wan Lap-man, a social worker who conducted the survey. He added the heavy workloads faced by students and pupils impacted how much sleep and exercise they got.

The survey used the Depression Anxiety and Stress Scales, a psychological assessment tool developed by the University of New South Wales in Australia to measure stress, anxiety and depression levels.

It showed 31.6 percent had mild to extremely severe stress, while 38.7 percent had moderate to extreme anxiety.

Some 30 per cent had moderate to extreme depression.

Not enough children exercise an hour a day -- or once a week
All these numbers are alarming and we wonder if the Hong Kong government is worried too.

The proportion of people suffering from severe to extreme stress, anxiety and depression was higher in the 19-24 age group.

Although the World Health Organization recommends at least an hour of moderate to vigorous exercise per day for those aged five to 17 years, the association only found 4.7 percent were getting that much physical activity.

The numbers were similar to a 2017 Chinese University survey where less than half of children aged two to 17 exercise at least an hour per day; only 30 percent exercised with their families once a week.

Children were also not getting enough sleep. From the ages of 6 to 12 it was 7.9 hours of sleep per day, and those 13-18 years it was 7 hours of sleep. The US Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends nine to 12 hours and 8 to 10 hours respectively.

Young adults aged 19-24 only sleep 6.8 hours per day.

Wan the social worker says children and young people need to spend more time offline, sleeping and exercising.

More sleep in general would help children focus more in class and hopefully have the interest and confidence in what they are learning. Being tired all the time makes staying awake in class even more challenging let alone understanding the concepts being taught.

When I'm out late, past 10pm, it's shocking to see parents still out with their young children, particularly on a weekday. Don't they know their kids need more sleep? I need more sleep myself!

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