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Letters | Hong Kong must focus on students’ mental health to end rise in suicides


Students living in Hong Kong have dealt with on-and-off school closures and resumptions under the relentless waves of the Covid-19 pandemic. As a local emotional education charity, we are pleading for a greater focus on students’ emotional well-being because it is heartbreaking to see that more children have taken their own lives. There is no more compelling reason to find ways to stop these tragedies from happening than these alarming figures.

We would hate to see even one more such incident. That is why early detection is fundamental to better emotional well-being for all. It eases the burden of intense intervention and prevents people from suffering from more severe mental health problems. During the pandemic, students have encountered numerous challenges, including fewer chances to explore their surroundings, possibly increased conflict at home, the lack of proper emotional outlets, limited connection with their peers, and a weak sense of belonging to their school.

Teachers and parents are not immune to such difficulties, either, as they are coping with the constant readjustments related to the pandemic. The accumulated stress is real.

As there is no better cure than prevention, empowering teachers and parents to openly share their feelings and needs will help us nurture the next generation and encourage students to develop the habit of expressing what they feel starting at an early age. The holistic involvement of teachers, parents, and students is necessary since they are intertwined in the co-creation of a safe environment to express emotions, which is why Just Feel holds special back-to-school days after holidays for school members to reconnect.

We have learned that many schools feel the need to implement a whole-school approach promoting social-emotional learning but lack the resources to do so. Just Feel has been fortunate enough to form supportive partnerships with 20 schools this year thanks to the trust of generous donors. There is still so much room for work, and ultimately there should be a systemic transformation of the communication culture of all schools and families to help enhance students’ emotional well-being.

We believe it is important to uphold our organization’s motto, “Connection before solution”. It reminds us and students to embrace different emotions, build better connections, and show compassion and empathy towards others in the same society.

Raymond Yang Sze-ngai, co-founder and executive director, Just Feel 原文:

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