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Friday, Mar 31, 2023

Happiness improves - but depression lurks

Happiness improves - but depression lurks

Two-thirds of Hongkongers show moderate to severe depressive symptoms, despite people in general being happier than four years ago, a social enterprise's survey has found.
A separate study by the University of Hong Kong shows 29 percent of respondents aged 60 and above reported feelings of loneliness during Covid's fifth wave.

HK.WeCARE, after asking 1,147 people aged above 12 between August 5 and 18, said this year's happiness index was 6.59 out of 10, slightly higher than 6.54 in 2018.

People aged between 12 and 18 are the unhappiest group with a score of 5.93 out of 10.

The executive director of Wofoo Social Enterprises, Christina Maisenne Lee, said students are under great pressure and need to take online classes during the pandemic which caused them to "have less contact with people and affected their learning and concentration."

Simon Lam Ching, adviser of HK.WeCARE, said Hongkongers usually score with a tight standard and the result indicated that the city is 'returning to normalcy as the resistance of external factors recede."

The research assessed the happiness level from four factors: internal, external, health conditions and social well-being.

For internal factors, Hongkongers' "mental capital" such as love and fortitude have increased this year.

Although the overall happiness index has increased, 32 percent of respondents have moderately severe to severe depressive symptoms, which is 1.6 percentage points higher than last year. And some 23 percent have moderate depressive symptoms, 6.3 percentage points higher than last year.

On the satisfaction level of external factors, "living environment" scored 5.96, "natural environment" 5.88 and "harmony between religion" 5.81.

But the group's adviser, Ricky Szeto Wing-fu, believes that the overall housing situation in Hong Kong is unsatisfactory, with 200,000 people still living in subdivided rooms.

"Hong Kong people are living with no dignity," Szeto said, adding Hongkongers have been facing adversities and challenges.

"Hongkongers more or less know how to make happiness out of suffering."

The lowest scores were related to politics and economy, with 4.48 and 4.55, and for "trust in government" and "government policy."

Both "politics and society" and "Hong Kong general economy" had 4.69 marks. "Trust in government" reached a record high, but still ranked bottom. Szeto said while external factors can affect a person's emotions, he believed that Hong Kong people need to "love themselves more" to regularly release emotions and seek help when needing emotional support.

In a study by HKU, 29 social welfare groups on elderly's mental health amid the pandemic found that one in three elderly felt depressed amid the fifth wave.

The research team interviewed 4,921 seniors aged 60 or above by telephone from April to June this year.

The results showed that 34 percent of the elderly respondents suffered from at least one condition of depression, anxiety, or loneliness, which had increased significantly compared to the results during the same period in 2020.

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