Nearly 40% secondary schoolkids showed depression signs: study

August 29, 2016 11:47
Schoolgirls have higher ratio of anxiety symptoms compared with boys, according to a survey. Photo: HKEJ

With a new school year set to begin, a survey has revealed that nearly 40 percent of secondary school students in Hong Kong have shown signs and symptoms of depression.

According to Baptist Oi Kwan Social Service, 38.7 percent of secondary school students interviewed showed signs of depression, with 31.2 percent also displaying symptoms of anxiety.

Wong Yim-fun, an official with the social service organization, said the students suffered from insomnia, low confidence and self-esteem.

Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education Examination (HKDSE), the public exam for university admission, was rated as the main source of stress, news website reported.

Thirty percent of senior secondary school pupils cited the HKDSE exam as the chief source of stress. Fifteen percent of secondary one students said their emotional wellbeing was affected due to the fear of coping with the exam.

Students were haunted by academic performance, with more than four in 10 saying they were worried about going to school and over three in 10 saying they were afraid of going to school.

For the survey, researchers from Baptist Oi Kwan Social Service interviewed more than 15,000 secondary school pupils from 42 institutions in 14 districts in Hong Kong between October 2015 and May 2016, according to Metro Daily.

The survey pointed to a higher ratio of symptoms of anxiety among schoolgirls (41.4 percent), compared with boys (36 percent).

Kwok Wai-wai, a clinical psychologist, said the reason could be because girls may be more likely thinking for the longer term and considering their future roles in society, factors that would be causing stress.

Also, parents might be overlooking their daughters' mental well-being.

Kwok told that his organization has been handling over 660 cases this year, which is a record high in the past four years. Cases referred by schools climbed to 118, doubling from last year's level of 57.

Parents should not only focus on students’ academic performance, they should also closely cooperate with schools and social workers to take care of students' mental well-being, she said.

Failure is normal -- this idea should be instilled and reinforced in students to help relieve their stress, Kwok added.

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