Coolminds is Mind HK’s youth mental health initiative in partnership with the KELY Support Group. It aims to bring international best practice in youth mental health to Hong Kong and aid in the implementation of programmes for the prevention, early intervention, and management of youth mental health.
What is Coolminds?
Mind HK and KELY Support Group decided to start Coolminds to, as we recognized that by helping youth and those around them learn about mental health, we can make a massive difference. Our goals:
- To teach youth to recognise emotions and work with these feelings
- To give teachers, parents, and students access to high quality mental health information and help online and via their schools
- To train parents, teachers, and educators to recognise the signs and symptoms of mental health problems in young people and on ways to give them help
International Best Practice in Youth Mental Health
Mind HK and KELY Support are working collaboratively to localise and translate tried and tested programmes and interventions that have been researched and perfected over the last few years in the UK, Australia, and New Zealand. Comprehensive online resources, adapted from Mind UK, are already available for adults in English and Traditional Chinese on the Mind HK website.
We now have agreements with the Black Dog Institute, Orygen in Australia, and the Charlie Waller Memorial Trust in the UK to localise and translate their youth mental health online resources into Traditional Chinese. These resources will be for parents, teachers, and youth. In addition, our international partners have agreed to support, mentor, and train frontline staff from Hong Kong charities and NGOs during the implementation process.
Coolminds will continue to bring international speakers to give talks targeted towards education professionals, parents, and students and share international best practice and practical expertise. This will encourage a whole school approach to identifying and supporting students with mental health challenges and promote suicide prevention systems in schools.
Our next speaker series event will take place in October 2018, when we will be bringing out experts from the UK’s Charlie Waller Memorial Trust. The Trust aims to equip young people to look after their mental wellbeing. In Spring 2019 Australia’s Orygen will be our guest speakers in the speaker series. Orygen, the National Centre of Excellence of Youth Mental Health, is the world’s leading research and knowledge translation organisation focusing on mental ill-health in young people.
Why youth mental health is important
Half of all mental health problems show first signs before a person turns 14 years old, and three quarters of mental health problems begin before the age of 24. Hong Kong’s youth population are put under huge amounts of pressure from a very young age, both from expectations of others as well as the pressure that they put on themselves. They often report feeling very trapped.
Youth mental health in Hong Kong
Children and young people in Hong Kong today are finding themselves under increasing levels of stress and distress. The competition for higher education places and jobs is causing students to feel a high level of responsibility for success from a young age, which leads to them prioritising academic and extra-curricular success over their mental wellbeing. It is difficult for schools to manage the conflicting demands of academic results and student wellbeing, which results in both staff and students feeling under pressure.
Young people are also spending increasing amounts of time on social media and online. Although social media is extremely popular and has a number benefits, use of it can result in unfavourable comparisons between peers, as well as social exclusion and online bullying. Together with the ever-present strains of teenage life and development, all of these factors and more are forming a perfect storm for Hong Kong’s youth. This has resulted in insomnia, anxiety, depression, and coping strategies, such as using alcohol or drugs.