Young people share their thoughts about youth suicide & mental health
Hong Kong youths associated with KELY Support Group shared their thoughts on youth mental health and offered their views on how different stakeholders could help prevent youth suicide.
They reflected on how the pandemic is causing many of them to suffer from loneliness as a result of limited contact with peers, causing mental health issues and even thoughts about suicide. This on top of the ever present issues of academic pressure and relationship problems facing young people. Under new and existing challenges, young people regard families and schools as the most significant sources of support to them.
Family – and in particular a parent’s role – is important. “They can make up for friends not being around by checking in and communicating with us,” said one 16-year-old. Unfortunately, in many cases, parents are not as supportive as young people may wish, with comments such as:
- Parents may not know how to approach mental health issues
- Dialogue between may be limited because parents working late
- Some parents don’t fully understand mental health issues and don’t believe that youth experience pressure or stress
- More traditional parents may not be as supportive
Hong Kong youth felt that dialogue needed to be more open with parents. Parents should be encouraged to talk about shared experiences so that children understand that they are not alone.
Several young people noted the differences between local and international schools in their approach to mental health education:
- International schools were seen as caring more about mental health issues, establishing clubs and having regular checkups with students.
- Local schools were felt to focus more on students’ studies with little time for mental health awareness.
Hong Kong youths want to see more resources placed on mental health care and education in schools. They also felt that schools could teach students to learn how to better support each other and to seek help whenever needed. They suggested that the government or relevant organisations could carry out regular check-ups on young people, similar to providing services for the elderly.
By showing support and care, some of the catalysts associated with mental health (loneliness, stress, discrimination, neglect, physical health) can be addressed and the risks of mental health reduced.