Date
28 June 2017
A study has found that the government's mental health policy for children and youths has been seriously deficient for 20 years. Photo: HKEJ
A study has found that the government's mental health policy for children and youths has been seriously deficient for 20 years. Photo: HKEJ

Govt urged to improve mental health policy for children

Two pediatric groups are urging the government to tackle problems in Hong Kong’s mental health policy for children and youths, saying it has been “seriously deficient” for 20 years.

The Hong Kong Paediatric Society and the Hong Kong Paediatric Foundation said the government has not been doing enough to help people deal with pressure, as evidenced by the high suicide rate, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

They said the government’s mental health policy does not have sufficient resources, has an unequal distribution of resources and lacks focus and long-term planning.

Most records are either outdated or incomplete, the groups said in a report released Sunday.

For example, the growth chart that helps the government determine if children are growing and developing properly has not been revised since 1993. Such revision should have been done every five to 10 years, the report said.

The latest study on mental health among youths was conducted in 2008 and has never been updated since.

Foundation chairman Chan Chok-wan, criticized the government for lacking consistent measures to push down the suicide rate.

Chan blamed former chief executive Tung Chee-hwa and his successors Donald Tsang and Leung Chun-ying for having failed to devise a mental health policy dedicated to children.

Dr. Lilian Wong Hiu-lei, secretary general of the foundation, said that school performance has long been a major source of young people’s stress.

A survey conducted between May and June by the two groups on 1,327 parents and children in kindergarten and primary schools shows the average score of pressure faced by kindergarten pupils was at 3.6 on a scale of zero to 10, which is quite high.

For primary school students, it was 5.8, with the main reason being worries about school performance.

Meanwhile, nine in 10 parents have stress symptoms including short temper, emotional distress and insomnia.

Seven in 10 primary schoolchildren and their parents who responded to the survey said academic performance is the main source of stress.

The groups suggested the government establish an agency focused on children’s affairs and allow it operate independently.

[Chinese version 中文版]

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