The number of young people seeking treatment for mental health problems at Hong Kong’s public hospitals went up between 2010 and last year. The biggest jump was seen in those under 15 years of age.
The number from this age group seeking treatment at the Hospital Authority’s psychiatry department rose from 12,500 people in 2010-11 to 22,300 in 2014-15.
Dr Ivan Mak Wing-chit, a psychiatrist, said it was “worrying”. He said the news matched other research that says more young people are suffering from mental illness in Hong Kong.
“Not only is there a trend of more youngsters having mental illnesses, the age is going down,” he said.
Among those aged between 15 and 17, there were 4,200 patients at the psychiatry department in 2014-15, which was 45 per cent more than in 2010-2011.
Mak said the rising numbers could be caused by stress from studying, parents having higher expectations of their children, or more internet communication leading to young people feeling apart from society.
But Dr Cindy Chan, a psychologist, said the numbers could be higher because of greater awareness of mental health issues nowadays.
“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.
She said anyone who thinks they might be suffering from mental illness should talk to family and friends, and seek professional help.
Mak said he hoped schools would include lessons on stress management and mental health.