(7th April 2021 – Hong Kong) – Mind HK, a local mental health and registered S88 charity (91/16471), commissioned a survey of 1,000 randomly selected adults from March 17 to March 29, 2022, to determine the impact of COVID-19 on mental health and access to mental health support for Hong Kong citizens during the fifth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. The data was weighted to infer the target population in Hong Kong. The research was supported by The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Hong Kong and conducted by Social Policy Research (SPR) Limited.
Hong Kong’s overall mental health and well-being levels have been of concern for a while now, and the COVID-19 situation has only highlighted the extent of the crisis and the urgency to do more to help. Mind HK’s research showed:
- 38% (37.7%) of respondents said their mental health has gotten worse since January 2022
- Almost 56% (55.6%) of respondents scored lower than 52 out of 100 on the World Health Organisation 5 (WHO – 5) Well-Being Index, indicating “poor” overall mental well-being
- Nearly half (49.4%) of the respondents showed symptoms of mild to severe depression, and 19.2% showed moderate to severe symptoms of depression, according to the Patient Health Questionnaire – 9 (PHQ – 9)
- 41.3% surveyed showed symptoms of mild to severe anxiety, and 13.7% showed symptoms of moderate to severe anxiety, according to the General Anxiety Disorder – 7 Questionnaire (GAD – 7)
These figures clearly show that public mental health in Hong Kong is of significant concern and should be addressed as a top priority for society.
Poor mental health conditions can arise from the surrounding environment and different social, and personal stressors. Annissa, Mind HK’s Ambassador shared: “If you are a person recovering from social anxiety and depression, being told to lock yourself up in a room and limit all social interaction is both comforting and nerve-wracking. Comforting as it offers a valid, and globally recognised reason or excuse to be an introvert and socialise less, and nerve-wracking as too much of this “comfort” can in itself lead to increased anxiety.”
The deterioration in mental health is due to several factors, including the COVID-19 wave and related social distancing measures. The top COVID-19 related factors which respondents reported have negatively impacted mental health and well-being since January 2022 include:
- Fear of family members/loved ones getting infected with COVID-19 (64.2%)
- Feeling anxious about being placed in isolation/quarantine (63.7%)
- Not being able to see people as frequently as you are used to (61.5%)
- Not being able to go out as frequently as you are used to (60.4%)
- Having been diagnosed with COVID-19
(including individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 using the Rapid Antigen Test) (55.2%)
- Not being able to play sports or exercise (55.1%)
Initial analyses show that several groups, including students, young adults (25 – 34), elderly (65+), and parents, are more vulnerable to poor mental health at this time, as per the scales used. The results highlight that students, young adults, and parents are showing concerning depression and anxiety symptoms levels and the elderly have significantly poorer well-being compared to other age groups. Further details can be found in Appendix A.
48.6% of respondents who had been diagnosed with a mental health problem reported that they had never disclosed their problem to anyone, highlighting the stigma around mental health in Hong Kong. The results also reflected a shortage of online and low-cost professional support tools to help tackle the rising demand for mental health help. For those with mental health problems who reported barriers in accessing mental health support, the key reasons were lack of available mental health services (61.7%); fear of being infected by COVID-19 in clinics/hospitals (56.2%); long waiting times for service (54.8%). Other significant reasons included financial concerns (52.1%) and being unsure of where to seek help (49.4%).
Dr Hannah Reidy, CEO of Mind HK and a Clinical Psychologist says that: “The results of our research are worrying, but sadly, not surprising. Our data indicates that almost 50% of Hong Kong citizens (18+) are showing clinical symptoms of depression and over half have poor mental health. We can see clearly from this data the reality of the current mental health picture in Hong Kong. The COVID pandemic is a physical health crisis, but there is a clear mental health crisis within our population. We need to do more as a society to help one another – to speak out about our mental health concerns, seek and offer support, and provide resources for those who need them. Please remember that if you are facing a mental health problem, you are not on your own.”
Mind HK COVID – 19 Mental Health Support Workshops and Resources
Mind HK’s mission is to ensure that no one in Hong Kong has to face a mental health problem alone. To aid in this mission, Mind HK launched a series of online workshops, webinars and resources, to support the community and help to provide individuals with relevant tools and techniques to support and manage their wellbeing during these difficult times.
Apart from a comprehensive self-help guide developed by clinical professionals, Mind HK has also launched a new COVID – 19 information hub to provide further mental health support for those in need. The hub, which is available in both English and Chinese, includes valuable content for coping with anxiety and pandemic fatigue, mandatory isolation tips, and managing mental health and emotions if you test positive. More COVID-19 mental health tips can also be found on Mind HK’s official social media pages – @hongkongmind (Facebook) and @mindhongkong (Instagram). Content will be constantly updated as the fifth wave develops.
Mind HK believes the one silver lining of COVID-19 is that mental health is being spoken out about much more openly than before; it’s provided a common reason for people to talk about their own feelings and emotions. The organisation will continue to formulate relevant mental health support programmes, resources, and services based on the needs of citizens, and make every effort to provide effective and credible mental health support for the city.
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About the Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Hong Kong
Informed by interconnectedness, The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Hong Kong supports projects that seek to enhance the well-being of local communities and the environment. The Foundation is a private philanthropy with deep roots in Hong Kong.
About Mind HK
Mind HK (Mind Mental Health Hong Kong Limited) is a S88 registered charity (91/16471), which launched in 2017. The organisation’s mission is to ensure that no one in Hong Kong has to face a mental health problem alone. Through resources, training, and outreach campaigns and programmes, Mind HK helps to educate the public on mental health and remove the associated stigma against those suffering from mental health problems with the aim of achieving the best mental health situation for all in Hong Kong. With existing collaboration and research efforts, Mind HK supports Hong Kong in becoming a global leader and regional model for public mental health. For more on their work, vision and mission, please visit www.mind.org.hk.
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 they do, especially in research, is dedicated to improving the health of vulnerable groups and maintaining the best mental health possible for all of Hong Kong. Mind HK hopes that anyone reporting or commenting on their work will respect and support their independence and neutrality.
For more information, please visit www.mind.org.hk and follow us on social media.
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Jeff Chan / Chloe Hung
T: +852 2509 3308
Carol Liang, Deputy CEO, Mind HK
Details Research Results on PHQ – 9, GAD – 7 (the depression and anxiety scales used), WHO-5 of different groups
- 63.4% showed symptoms of mild to moderate depression according to the Patient Health Questionnaire – 9 (PHQ-9)
- 67% showed symptoms of anxiety ranging from mild to severe, 22.2% showed moderate to severe symptoms according to the General Anxiety Disorder – 7 (GAD-7)
- 49.2% scored lower than 52 out of 100 on the World Health Organisation 5 (WHO-5) Well-Being Index scale, indicating “poor” mental well-being
25-34 Age Group (Young Adults)
- 54.9% showed symptoms of mild to severe depression according to the Patient Health Questionnaire – 9 (PHQ – 9)
- 47.8% showed symptoms of anxiety ranging from mild to severe, 23.4% showed moderate to severe symptoms according to the General Anxiety Disorder – 7 (GAD-7)
- 60.6% scored lower than 52 out of 100 on the World Health Organisation 5 (WHO-5) Well-Being Index scale, indicating “poor” mental well-being.
65+ Age Group (Elderly)
- 47.8% showed symptoms of mild to severe depression according to the Patient Health Questionnaire – 9 (PHQ-9)
- 40.3% showed symptoms of anxiety ranging from mild to severe, 11.8% showed moderate to severe symptoms according to the General Anxiety Disorder – 7 (GAD-7)
- 62.6% scored lower than 52 out of 100 on the World Health Organisation 5 (WHO-5) Well-Being Index scale, indicating “poor” mental well-being
- 57.7% showed symptoms of mild to severe depression according to the Patient Health Questionnaire – 9 (PHQ-9)
- 48.7% showed symptoms of anxiety ranging from mild to severe, 21.1% showed moderate to severe symptoms according to the General Anxiety Disorder – 7 (GAD-7)
- 59.1% scored lower than 52 out of 100 on the World Health Organisation 5 (WHO-5) Well-Being Index scale, indicating “poor” mental well-being