Youth Mental Health

Youth Mental Health

75% of all mental disorders has an onset before age 24 and have pronounced effects extending throughout the lifespan (Kessler at al 2007). What is more, recent studies showed that young people suffer from an overall poor mental well-being.

As we can see, across the Millennium, there are many fundamental changes ongoing in the world and the humankind, which would have deep-rooted influences in young people, for example, digitalization in digital natives.

From a contemporary perspective, the notion of “youth mental wealth” has been receiving increasing attention from economists and governments. The cognitive resources of individuals, collectively, are the most precious resource in any community (Beddington et al., 2008).

In view of this unparalleled size, complexity, novelty and fluidity of youth mental health problems nowadays along with the ongoing paradigm shift, we need to respond specifically, timely and proactively to meet the mental health needs of young people, and hopefully foster their “mental wealth” in the long run.

That is the background for the birth of the Youth Mental Health (YMH) Initiatives in the Department of Psychiatry of HKU.

Our YMH Initiatives currently involve researches on youth mental health, youth mental health services and consultations, youth mental health education programmes and campaigns as well as youth mental health self-help digital tools, and we aim at developing towards a multi-disciplinary and multi-level academic, clinical and service model in youth mental health.

YMH Projects in the Department

LevelMind@JC 賽馬會平行心間計劃 - Youth Mental Wellness Hubs Project

    • A 4.5-years project funded by the Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust
    • Partnered with 6 NGOs to launch Hong Kong’s 1st territory-wide initiative for building a youth-friendly mental health platform
    • 8 hubs have been revamped from existing youth centres to youth-friendly and stigma-free ‘third spaces’
    • Aim at providing preventive interventions to youth between the age of 12 and 24 with distress and risk of mental health deterioration
    • Our psychiatrists, psychologists and researchers work closely with hubs and we are committed to providing services on:
      • Individual case consultations and assessments
      • Capacity building for Youth Mental Health professionals and develop an online learning platform
      • Developing cost-effective low-intensity intervention strategies
      • Developing multi-disciplinary Youth Mental Health early intervention models

「心之流」HK FLOW TOOL: A Mental Health Recognition Tool

  • Recent evidence of high levels of mental health distress in Hong Kong youth population
  • Guided self-assessment based on tools generated from recent local data
  • Free, engaging, brief assessment of key protective and risk-factors to predict trajectory of mental health
  • Tailor-made, individualized feedbacks
  • Continuous refinement of model by updating relevant question pool and prediction model
  • Link to the description
  • Link to tool
  • Press release

Mindshift Program 思動計劃 (on-going)

  • 1st ever territory-wide educational programme aiming to build up a territory-wide school network to share resources and provide mutual support in advocating positive mental health and destigmatizing mental illnesses in secondary schools
  • Provide school talks and workshops for students and teachers as well as individual school visits to facilitate the schools to conduct mental health awareness campaigns and advocate mental health policies
  • Develop an online platform to display resources about mental health and experience sharing from member schools
  • 40+ secondary schools in Hong Kong have joined the programme throughout the years
  • Link to the project website

Youth Epidemiological Project (YES) 呢一代Teen 青研究 (ongoing)

  • Detailed community epidemiological survey of mental health in young people 15-25.
  • Elucidate risk and protective pathways leading to mental health challenges
  • Use Symptom dimension approach to observe sub-clinical and clinical evolution of psychopathology
  • Explore potential generation effects of changes in lifestyle, digital exposure and mental health.
  • Estimate the cost of mental health problem in young people
  • Prepare for longitudinal outcome study
  • Prevalence of mental health conditions
  • Link to the project website

Early Assessment Service for Young People with Early Psychosis (EASY) (on-going)

  • As the average onset of the illness is between 20-25 years old, this program was piloted in 2001 with the specific objective to address the needs of young person and subsequently extended to the age range of 15-65, who develop psychotic illness for the first time.
  • Arrange early assessment with the new cases within 2 weeks
  • Accept referrals from family members, friends or teachers through the EASY hotline, website or directly at one of the service centres
  • Link to the project website

Ethnic Minority Well-being Centre

  • There is an urgent need for mental health support for ethnic minorities (EM) in Hong Kong. It has been estimated that approximately 44,000 EM may be suffering from mental health issue.
  • Set up the 1st EM Well-being Centre in Hong Kong offering direct counselling service to EM in their own languages
  • A referral pathway will be developed to link clients with severe mental illness to the Hospital Authority for further psychiatric management via Integrated Community Centre for Mental Wellness (“ICCMW”)
  • A territory-wide public awareness programme will be launched to address stigma, improve understanding of mental illness and promote early help seeking among EM
  • Our research team will design a service protocol which includes assessment, intervention, follow-up and referral process
  • It is envisaged that this project will collect and analyse data that can inform government in policy review and development and will promote mental health service delivery to EM in ways that are relevant effective and efficient