Young and miserable in Hong Kong: Survey finds a third of city’s youth suffer stress, depression or anxiety

Growing up in Hong Kong isn’t easy.

At least a third of young people in Hong Kong suffer from stress, depression or anxiety, according to a new study released Tuesday.

The NGO Hong Kong Playground Association interviewed 3,279 young people aged 6 to 24 in May about their mental health, sleep and exercise and Internet use.

The results are grim: 30 percent struggle with mild to severe depression and 9 percent experience mild to severe anxiety, while 32 percent suffer from stress.

Social workers from the organization reached out to respondents online and in person, and the study used the Depression, Anxiety, and Stress Scales, a test developed by Australia’s University of New South Wales to assess mental well-being.

The results confirm what many people have known for years.

In Hong Kong’s notoriously competitive education system, young people are overburdened by onerous amounts of homework and academic pressure, with less time for sleep and leisure activities.

Dr. Wan Lap-man, who conducted the study, told Coconuts HK that parents and teachers need to rethink what’s most important for future generations.

“Young people face heavy stress in academic performance and competition among students,” he said.

A study earlier this year by the Professional Teachers’ Union (PTU) , which surveyed 425 primary school teachers, found that primary students were likely to take home even more homework on their days off.

The PTU blamed government policy for the crushing workload, saying teachers were required to cover more “learning targets” — which refer to topics that must be covered — alongside a widening of the school curriculum.

In no doubt a sign of stress, one child recently turned her frustration on her mother with a withering mother’s day card.

“To my vicious mother,” she wrote. “Every day you tell me to revise and it annoys me to death. I hate you! Wishing you a sad mother’s day. Your daughter.”


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