During a troubling time for many Hong Kong residents, Mind HK wants to equip locals with tools to help them open up about their emotions.
The mental health charity conducted research in September using the World Health Organization Well-being Index (WHO-5) which found that the region’s mental well-being has dropped by 11% since 2018.
Nearly two-thirds (61%) of respondents in the survey showed signs of “poor mental well-being, suggesting further assessment for depression is recommended”, while 14% said they did not feel cheerful or calm at any point in the two weeks prior to the study — which was in August during the throes of the Hong Kong protests.
“It has been a very difficult time for Hong Kong over the last few months, however Hong Kong’s mental health problem has been recognised by the professional community as an issue for several years. We hope this campaign helps us make a positive step in the right direction,” said Mind HK chief operating officer Po Wan Cheng.
The 44.6 WHO-5 well-being score is a significant drop from previous studies undertaken in Hong Kong, with average WHO-5 well-being scores of 57.78 in 2015, 56.31 in 2016, 59.75 in 2017 and 50.2 in 2018. The research was commissioned by Mind HK in partnership with Hong Kong Public Opinion Research Institute
In response, Mind HK has developed a campaign on World Mental Health Day 2019 (10 October) with the objective of inspiring Hongkongers to talk more openly and honestly about their feelings and emotions.
The #HowOkayAreYou campaign is built around the fact that when Hongkongers are asked how they are, the common response is ‘okay’ no matter how they feel, the charity said. By putting this concept at the centre of the campaign, Mind wants to encourage people to reflect on their feelings and respond more honestly. It is inviting people to make a pledge on social media using the #HowOkayAreYou hashtag to confront the stigma surrounding mental health.
The charity has built a dedicated website for the campaign offering a digital guide on “How to Ask” as well as educational videos on “Spotting the signs”.
It has also created a series of Whatsapp sticker collections with local Hong Kong illustrators that it hopes will provide people with a new way of communicating emotions with friends and family.
“The first step to reducing stigma around mental health is to increase the conversation around it,” said Po Wan Cheng. “The #HowOkayAreYou campaign aims to inspire people in Hong Kong to engage with each other about their mental well-being and reduce the stigma around the topic of mental health.”