An increasing number of young people in Hong Kong are seeking treatment for psychiatric problems, according to local public hospital records.
There were a total of 4,200 mental health patients aged between 15 and 17 in 2015, a 45% increase from 2010. Also in 2015, there were 5,900 patients aged between 18 and 22, a 23% increase over the same period.
The most worrying figure, however, comes from mental health patients under 15 years old, which rose from 12,500 in 2010 to 22,300 in 2015 — a 78% increase
“Not only is there a trend of more youngsters having mental illnesses, the age is going down,” Psychiatrist Ivan Mak Wing-chit told the South China Morning Post.
Mak blamed stress from complicated school work, parental pressure and the isolation caused by internet dependence as causes of the rising number of young patients.
Last year, the Mental Health Month campaign survey revealed that teens with poor mental health were found to spend four to five and a half hours on social media a day.
He further suggested that including lessons on stress management and mental health in schools’ curriculum might help curb the trend.
Psychologist Cindy Chan, on the other hand, cited better education as the reason for the increase. She said better awareness and society’s greater acceptance of mental health issues have caused the influx of patients.
“People are more familiar with symptoms of mental health problems now, so they are more likely to notice when they are suffering, and seek help,” she said.