Ready to Make a Difference!
Mind HK and MINDSET graduate the first cohort of Youth Wellbeing Practitioners (YWP)
A new workforce increasing accessibility of evidence-based, low-cost mental health support in Hong Kong
Successfully delivered over 3,330 free mental health talking therapy sessions and mental health talks for 1,000+ local youth
A remarkable 70% of clients (aged 18-24) achieve ‘recovery’ from clinical psychological distress following the YWPs’ support sessions
( Hong Kong, 26 September 2023 ) – Mind HK, a local mental health charity with a vision to ensure no one has to face a mental health problem alone in Hong Kong, is dedicated to bringing effective, scalable, and evidence-based mental healthcare to the city in order to fill the treatment gaps and meet the growing demand of mental health needs.
Hong Kong has been grappling with a high prevalence of mental health conditions in recent years. Research shows a steady rise in common mental disorders (CMD), from 1 in 7 Hong Kong residents affected in 2013 to around 1 in 6 today. However, less than 30% of individuals facing a mental health condition receive support, and only a fraction receive evidence-based treatment from qualified professionals. The low levels of help-seeking are partially attributed to the lengthy waiting time for public healthcare, the high cost of private therapy and the shortage of accessible professionals for those in need in the city.
The public healthcare system struggles with lengthy waiting times with a wait of up to 95 weeks for psychiatric support, while private therapy remains financially out of reach for most resident, with session fees for a clinical psychologist or psychiatrist ranging from HKD 1,500 to HKD 3,000, or even higher. Compounding the issue, Hong Kong also faces a scarcity of mental health professionals, evidenced by a psychologist-to-population ratio of 0.82:10,000, which is substantially lower than the ratio of 5.3:10,000 observed in other OECD countries.
Compared to a Mind HK survey about the general public’s attitude towards mental illness conducted in October 2021, the result
from June 2023 revealed that the number of respondents indicating that they do not know where to get help for mental health problems outside of the hospital system, has recorded an increase of 3.1% – from 85.6% to 88.7%. These figures reflect that even with a jump in interest in learning about mental health and mental health conditions, a significant treatment gap in local mental health support remains, further exacerbating the growing demand for effective and accessible mental health services.
Addressing the shortage of trained professionals, Mind HK, in partnership with Jardine Matheson Group’s charity, MINDSET Hong Kong (MINDSET), are pleased to announce the graduation of its inaugural cohort of Youth Wellbeing Practitioners (YWPs). These practitioners will help to provide additional community mental health support so individuals in need can receive more timely help, in an effort to create a more resilient and supportive environment for mental health.
The milestone achievement stems from the pioneering “Youth Wellbeing Practitioner Pilot Training Programme,” which drew inspiration from successful stepped-care models implemented in the United Kingdom (IAPT/Talking Therapies in the NHS), Australia (New Access), and other countries. Launched in 2021 through a collaborative endeavour with the Jardine Matheson Group’s charity MINDSET, the programme is funded by Jardine Matheson, the Hongkong Land HOME FUND and HKEX Foundation, with Hong Kong Baptist University (HKBU) as an academic partner, and Baptist Oi Kwan Social Services as the programme’s localisation partner. The programme aimed to pilot training wellbeing practitioners at scale to provide insights and guidance for a sustainable solution to tackling the growing demand for timely and efficient mental healthcare in Hong Kong.
The pilot programme successfully trained 51 YWPs through an intensive 120 hours of in-person training and a rigorous 9-month supervised clinical placement among 32 host organisations, inclusive of schools, NGOs, and online via Mind HK. With their bilingual proficiency and specialised knowledge, these practitioners learned to deliver high-quality, early intervention support for young individuals experiencing mild to moderate psychological distress, including anxiety and depressive symptoms. The eight-session intervention aims to provide early intervention and prevent mental health problems from worsening, and to alleviate the pressure on the public healthcare system, enhancing resource allocation in the long term.
Mind HK’s dedicated team of YWPs have made significant strides in improving youth mental health. Through the pilot programme, the YWPs delivered over 3,336 free mental health support sessions to 400+ individuals aged between 12 and 24 within their placement period. Furthermore, the intervention programme teaches youth various skills to manage their negative thoughts and emotions. With regular practice, these skills can be applied to various situations in life, helping to significantly improve their level of psychological flexibility and resilience.
Understanding how good mental health starts with a strong foundation in mental health literacy and awareness, the YWPs also delivered talks and workshops to around 1,000 young people on various mental health topics. These talks encouraged discussions with young people to help them navigate different mental health challenges effectively, overcome their fear of seeking help, and break down the stigma towards mental health.
The feedback from various stakeholders involved expressed significant satisfaction to the pilot programme; clients of the programme gave an overall satisfaction rate of 4.35 out of a total score of 5. The results obtained from people who participated in Mind HK’s services and completed the recommended eight support sessions, were truly noteworthy. Mind HK noted that the intervention led to an improvement in different aspects across age groups involved, including quality of life, psychological flexibility, and psychological distress for participants. The positive impact of the service was particularly evident among participants aged between 18 and 24, who had a recovery rate that exceeded or matched the NHS UK threshold, compared to a similar programme called “NHS Talking Therapies for Anxiety and Depression” (formerly known as IAPT, Improving Access to Psychological Therapies) implemented in the UK.
The impressive recovery rate from the YWP pilot programme, reaching up to 70% among 18-24 years old, indicates that a significant proportion of clients who started the intervention with clinical levels of psychological stress entered “recovery” (scored below the clinical threshold for psychological distress post-intervention, meaning they experienced significant symptom reduction within 8 sessions between pre-intervention and post-intervention from a YWP). These promising findings highlight the efficacy and success of Mind HK’s Improving Access to Community Therapies (iACT) services in facilitating positive outcomes effectively and efficiently, empowering individuals on their journey to mental wellbeing.
Mr Chung Ping SIT, one of Mind HK’s Youth Wellbeing Practitioners said: “The YWP programme has been a really valuable experience to gain first-hand experience in delivering mental health intervention to youths. The 120-hour training and weekly supervision cultivated and enhanced my knowledge, skills and attitude towards working with my clients. It was incredibly rewarding to witness the changes in students, because over time, as they were able to put into practice the different skills they learned through this intervention programme, the impact that this had on their levels of acceptance towards their own emotions and themselves was quite significant.”
A host organisation of the YWP programme said the programme “Understands the needs of students and can really help those who perhaps do not want to share their thoughts with school staff or social workers. Having an actual YWP in the school has been really beneficial to students as they can access the service easily and be more aware of the steps to take to look after their mental health. We look forward to continuing this programme with Mind HK.”
Dr Candice Powell, CEO of Mind HK, said: “The results from our pilot programme are very promising and create a beacon of hope in our mission to reshape mental health care in Hong Kong. We are determined to continue our commitment to scaling up and refining our localisation and implementation strategies to ensure that every individual with mental health issues receives the most effective, and optimal care. With approximately one in six individuals in Hong Kong currently experiencing a mental health condition, the call for change is not just pressing – it is paramount.
Through the continuous expansion of our iACT programme, our wellbeing practitioners are seeking to provide evidence-based and culturally sensitive services to the community, with a particular focus on those who could benefit from early intervention treatment and face barriers in accessing proper clinical support, such as individuals from low-income families.”
To drive the progress of services, the graduated YWPs, together with Mind HK’s Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner (PWP) Training Programme, will all sit under Mind HK’s large-scale, Improving Access to Community Therapies (iACT) initiative, which is designed to be a training and service platform offering exclusive, low cost or pro-bono, short-term mental health support to those in need in different age groups (youth and adults).
Mind HK is also embarking on an ambitious plan to expand the pool of iACT wellbeing practitioners over the coming years. Currently, the organisation is training 30 additional practitioners, with comprehensive plan to work in partnership with MINDSET Hong Kong to train an additional 100 practitioners within the next three years, addressing existing treatment gaps in the local healthcare system. By 2026 they will have trained a minimum of 180 practitioners in total to serve the Hong Kong community.
These programmes demonstrate that with the increasing availability of appropriate, efficient, and evidence-based early treatments, it is possible to improve mental health in Hong Kong. Please visit the websites below for more information on Mind HK’s YWP programme and iACT initiative (currently serving only adults, but will serve both youth and adults in the future).
Mind HK’s YWP Programme: https://www.mind.org.hk/ywp-programme/
Mind HK’s iACT initiative: www.iact.hk
High Resolution Images:
T: +852 6334 6038
Carol Liang, Deputy CEO, Mind HK
About Mind HK
Mind HK (Mind Mental Health Hong Kong Limited) is an S88 registered charity (91/16471), which was launched in 2017. The organisation’s vision 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, the work of Mind HK helps to raise awareness of mental health and reduce the associated stigma, with the aim of achieving the best mental health for all in Hong Kong. With existing collaboration and research efforts, Mind HK is here to support 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/.
Mind HK’s Social Media Platforms:
MINDSET is a registered charity in Hong Kong founded by the Jardine Matheson Group in 2002, focused on making a tangible and sustainable difference towards the underserved mental health community.
MINDSET operates in Hong Kong and Singapore. We aim to raise awareness of and change perceptions towards mental illness, as well as support initiatives that foster improved mental health through our three focus areas of community partnership, the Jardines’ network, as well as fundraising & financial support. We lead through corporate partnership, education, advocacy and sponsorship while engaging with the mental health community to drive positive change.
Please visit MINDSET’s official website at www.mindset.org.hk, Facebook page www.facebook.com/MINDSETHongKong and LinkedIn page at www.linkedin.com/company/mindset-hong-kong/ for the latest information.
About The Jardine Matheson Group
Jardine Matheson is a diversified Asian-based group founded in China in 1832, with unsurpassed experience in the region. It has a broad portfolio of market-leading businesses, which represent a combination of cash-generating activities and long-term property assets and are closely aligned to the increasingly prosperous consumers of the region. The Group’s businesses aim to produce sustainable returns by providing their customers with high-quality products and services. The Group is committed to driving long-term sustainable success in our businesses and our communities.
Jardine Matheson operates principally in China and Southeast Asia, where its subsidiaries and affiliates benefit from the support of the Group’s extensive knowledge of the region and its long-standing relationships. These companies are active in the fields of motor vehicles and related operations, property investment and development, food retailing, health and beauty, home furnishings, engineering and construction, transport services, restaurants, luxury hotels, financial services, heavy equipment, mining and agribusiness.
Jardine Matheson holds interests in Jardine Pacific (100%), Hongkong Land (53.2%), DFI Retail Group (77.5%), Mandarin Oriental (80.2%), Jardine Cycle & Carriage (77.4%) (‘JC&C’) and Zhongsheng (21.1%). JC&C in turn has a 50.1% shareholding in Astra. Jardine Matheson Holdings Limited is incorporated in Bermuda and has a primary listing on the London Stock Exchange, with secondary listings in Bermuda and Singapore. Jardine Matheson Limited operates from Hong Kong and provides management services to Group companies.
Mind HK Youth Wellbeing Practitioners Programme Host Organisation (2022 – 2023)
|Mind HK ( Online Services )||ESF Island School||Joyful Mental Health Foundation|
|Baptist Oi Kwan Social Services||ESF Sha Tin College||Kowloon Technical School|
|Bishop Hall Jubilee Secondary School||ESF South Island School||Li Po Chun United World College|
|Breakthrough||ESF West Island School||MKMCF Ma Chan Duen Hey Memorial College|
|Caritas Ma On Shan Secondary School||Harrow International School||Po Leung Kuk Lo Kit Sing (1983) College|
|Central Health CDT||HKU SPACE Po Leung Kuk Stanley Ho Community College||SKH Lam Woo Memorial School|
|Delia Group School (Broadway)||Hong Kong Baptist University||Society for Community Organisation|
|Delia Group School (Glee Path)||Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups||St John’s Cathedral Counselling Services|
|Delia School of Canada||Hong Kong University of Science and Technology||Victoria Shanghai Academy|
|DMHC Siu Ming Catholic Secondary School||ISF Academy||Wong Shiu Chi Secondary School|
|YMCA of Hong Kong||Yuen Long Town Hall|
 Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol, 2015
 Mind HK, 2023
 Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol, 2015
 Hospital Authority, 2022
 Our Hong Kong Foundation, 2022