About one in 10 children attending primary schools in Hong Kong has symptoms of major depression, a new survey revealed.
Released on Sunday, the survey by Baptist Oi Kwan Social Service polled 1,301 pupils aged nine to 13 from grades three to six across 14 schools in the city between January and March 2017.
Researchers asked questions about their family and school life, while measuring their risks for anxiety and depression.
Results showed that 9.7% — or about one in 10 — feel down and lose interest on most days of the week, suggesting major depressive disorder.
At such rate, the agency estimates that more than 33,000 could be affected throughout the city, where there are 349,000 primary schoolchildren.
In addition, the survey found that 13.2% of the students showed symptoms of depression. Another 21.7% suffered from constant stress, most of whom blamed “too much homework,” “preparing for secondary schooling” and “unsatisfactory academic performance,” the South China Morning Post noted.
The youngest case to be diagnosed with the illness was 10. Symptoms of depression include fatigue, feeling of uselessness and loss of appetite, as well as diarrhea, stomach pain and weight loss.
Interestingly, researchers also found that a lack of psychological resilience was the most prominent risk factor for childhood depression. Ester Lee Ming-lam, clinical psychologist, said in a press conference (via the Hong Kong Free Press):
“Children may not use the same methods as adults in expressing their inner thoughts – so we would look at more extrinsic factors, such as those relating to the physical body. For example, their sleep may be affected: they may sleep too much or experience insomnia, or they may have poor sleeping quality and have a lot of nightmares.”
Lee urged parents to interact with their children and look beyond academic results, including creativity, confidence and empathy, according to The Standard.