- 2020 research indicates that 43% of Hongkongers note a decline in their mental health during the early months of the coronavirus pandemic.
(Hong Kong, 13 August 2020) Hong Kong has seen an increase in the demand for mental health care, given COVID-19 and subsequent social and economic impacts. To support those most in need and affected by COVID-19, Mind HK has launched additional mental health initiatives with the support of Goldman Sachs Gives. These initiatives include a Mental Health Relief Scheme – Mind HK will assist persons that have been greatly impacted by the pandemic through short-term pro bono 1:1 online sessions, Help Me – Mind HK’s new AI virtual mental health assistant, and Covid-19 Mental Health Education Resources – material to assist people with a healthy transition to the ‘new normal’.
Research: COVID-19 and Hong Kong’s Mental Health
The initiatives are in response to the declining trend of mental wellbeing in Hong Kong caused by the pandemic. Mind HK conducted an online survey and commissioned Hong Kong Public Opinion Research Institute (HKPORI) to conduct a phone survey with 1000+ respondents in May 2020 to determine how levels of well-being changed during the rise of COVID-19 in Hong Kong (from January to May). The phone survey found that 43% of people reported that their mental health had worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic. In the online survey, almost half of respondents (49%) reported feeling lonely, which impacted their mental health and wellbeing. The safety issue due to the pandemic was the main barrier for seeking mental health support, with 21% of those with personal experience of mental health problems reporting this as a difficulty in accessing mental health support or treatment.
Covid-19 Emergency Mental Health Relief Scheme
Mind HK is happy to announce the COVID Mental Health Relief Scheme, supporting the COVID mental health scheme committee, a group of therapists. Together we will coordinate and offer short-term pro bono mental health support to those that have been most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly those most vulnerable – low income groups and those in quarantine centres or hospitalised. Available in English and Cantonese, support will consist of one to three free 1:1 remote sessions to help individuals manage stress and look after their wellbeing.
Qualified psychologists and counsellors and an additional team of organising therapists have volunteered their time to this scheme. Pro-bono legal support for this scheme was provided by Gall and DLA Piper. To register interest or enquire about the scheme, please visit: https://www.mind.org.hk/covid19reliefscheme/
Mind HK has launched “Help Me” (www.mind.org.hk/help-me/), an online virtual assistant available 24/7 in English and Traditional Chinese. In its pilot year, Help Me uses artificial intelligence (AI) to make access to mental health information and support easier and available to the Hong Kong public. The Help Me project started development in 2018 with seed funding from the family of the late Captain Laurence W.F. Grant, who lost his battle with mental health in northern Laos in October 17. At the time of his death, Laurence was seeking to develop a new mental health charity in Hong Kong, where he lived and worked, to support access to mental health support – the charity was to have been called Help Me. Funding will help further boost the development and reach of Help Me, to improve access to mental health and Covid-19 resources and support during this time.
Covid-19 Mental Health Education Resources
New Covid-19 Mental Health Education Resources will be launched in the coming months. The new guidelines and support material will provide insights and tips on managing mental health, specific to the hardships many HongKongers are facing due to the pandemic.
Hannah Reidy, CEO of Mind HK: “Since March 2020, we have trained 1105 people in “Managing Mental Health during COVID-19”, published general Covid-19 wellbeing tips in 10 languages, and developed workplace and school specific resources to aid the general public during transition periods. Our additional initiatives will further enable us to deliver services that respond directly to the current needs of our community and ensure those with a mental health problem receive the support they deserve.”
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About Mind Hong Kong:
Mind HK, established as “Mind Mental Health Hong Kong Limited,” is a registered S88 charity (91/16471) committed to improving awareness and understanding of mental health in Hong Kong. They collaborate with other local and international mental health charities and provide online support and training programmes, based on global best practice, to empower anyone experiencing a mental health problem and equip them with the resources they need. Through collaborative research, Mind HK is leading the way in understanding mental health problems in the city and providing its population with the right support and resources.
Anyone in Hong Kong who needs help with their mental health can be assured that they are entitled to the full support of Mind HK irrespective of their gender, race, background or beliefs. To be effective and credible, Mind HK operates as a neutral and impartial humanitarian charity without any political affiliations or other conflicts of interest. The work we do, especially our research, is dedicated to improving the health of vulnerable groups and maintaining the best mental health possible for all of Hong Kong. We hope that anyone reporting or commenting on our work will respect and support our independence and neutrality.
About COVID Mental Health Relief Committee:
The COVID mental health relief committee is a group of therapists. To find out more about them, please click here.
For information or interviews, please contact Sinclair
Sarah Chow | [email protected] | (852) 5932 9980
Nikki McLucas | [email protected] | (852) 6895 0534
For emergency support please contact the below services:
Samaritans 24-hour hotline (Multi-lingual): (852) 2896 0000
Samaritan Befrienders 24-hour hotline (Cantonese only): 2389 2222
Suicide Prevention Services 24-hour hotline (Cantonese only): (852) 2382 0000
More crisis support services can be found here: mind.org.hk/find-help-now
More non-urgent support services can be found here: https://www.mind.org.hk/community-directory/
Phone Survey (May 2020)
In May 2020 Mind HK commissioned a study via HKPORI to gain an understanding of the level of mental well-being in Hong Kong. 1,031 survey respondents were derived from a random sample of Hong Kong citizens, aged 18 or above:
- 43% reported scores indicative of poor mental well-being (based on the WHO-5 scale)
- 43% reported that their mental health got worse during the initial events of the pandemic, between January 2020 to April 2020.
Online Survey (May 2020)
In May 2020 Mind HK conducted an online study to gain an understanding of how the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting mental well-being in Hong Kong. The total sample consisted of 1,051 survey respondents (Hong Kong residents over the age of 18):
Relationship factors impacting well-being from January – May 2020:
- Not being able to see family, friends or partner that does not live in the same household (61%)
- Feeling anxious about family/ friends getting coronavirus (61%)
- Feeling lonely (49%)
Other factors impacting well-being from January – May 2020: :
- Not being able to go out as much (68%)
- Concerns about work (63%)
- Not being able to play sports or exercise (62%)
- 21% of those with personal experience of mental health problems reported feeling “unsure if it’s safe or responsible to attend in person” as a difficulty in accessing mental health support or treatment.