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Is Depression the ‘Silent Killer’ of Hong Kong’s Population?

Updated: Oct 20, 2022

Researcher & Writer: Eugena CHAN

Illustrators: Mia YUNG & Ellie LIU

Mental health has always been a taboo subject matter in Hong Kong, especially when it comes to depression in students and adults. So why exactly are so many people suffering from depression in Hong Kong and why aren’t we doing a better job at promoting the importance of taking care of ourselves?

Hong Kong has been labelled as one of the ‘most stressful’ cities in the world to live in due to its high living costs, harsh working hours and competitive school environment. All these factors contribute to the current mental health crisis many people are facing. Currently, 61% of adults suffer from poor mental-wellbeing and 1-in-4 workers in Hong Kong suffer from depression or anxiety.

The stigma surrounding these mental disorders also plays a huge role in why may of those who do have depression decide to suffer in silence. Many people, especially older generations have formed an extremely unhealthy notion on why depression occurs in the first place. Depression can be caused by multiple things, such as a chemical imbalance in the brain, past traumatic experiences or genetics. However, through a survey conducted, 41% see mental illness as a ‘lack of willpower’ and see it as a weakness. Because of this, 78% of sufferers refuse to seek help from professionals.

The availability of professional help also affects those who are suffering from mental illnesses. Waiting lists to see psychiatrists can be up to a 2 year wait and the cost of seeing one is another burden people must bear. Lots of families find themselves unable to afford the funds it takes to consistently see a professional therapist.

Students in Hong Kong have it no better. With the increasingly aggressive school environment that bases itself on heavy disciple, the taking on of a variety of extra-curricular activities and the intense workload, children find themselves unable to take time out of their day for themselves. A recent survey conducted by The Baptist Oi Kwan Social Service found 48% of secondary students were exhibiting early signs of depression, whilst 36% of respondents showed symptoms of moderate to severe depression. From 2016-2018, 59 students under the age of 18 took their own lives due to their workload and poor school environment.

In order to help with the mental health crisis, the most important question we need to address is how we can help reduce the stigma around mental disorders. By raising more awareness around how these illnesses develop, we can destroy the toxic idea that these problems do not come from a place of ‘weaknesses. Access to support for mental health also needs to become more accessible and affordable to give everyone an opportunity to receive the aid they need to battle these tough illnesses.


Heung, S. (2021, November 23). Suicide the cause in nearly a quarter of Hong Kong child deaths reviewed by Coroner’s Court. South China Morning Post. Retrieved September 26, 2022, from

Lee, P. (2022, September 26). Almost half of Hong Kong secondary school students show signs of depression, survey finds. Hong Kong Free Press HKFP. Retrieved September 26, 2022, from

Limited, D. C. H. K. (2022, February 10). Mental Health in Hong Kong. Retrieved September 26, 2022, from

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