Allow yourself mental space

Education | Ivy Ong-Wood 28 Sep 2021

The statistics are mindblowing. One in four of us are likely to be affected by mental health disorders at some point in our lives. In Hong Kong, one in six have a mental health disorder with an estimated 900 taking their own lives each year.

Even more shocking is that close to 70 percent of people suffering from mental health disorders never seek professional support.

The Covid-19 pandemic, with its constant lockdowns and school closures, certainly doesn't help.

Studies have shown that more than half of secondary school pupils have symptoms of depression.

This has proven to be a direct influence on the alarming growth of Hong Kong's youth suicide rate, which has doubled since 2017.

Students feeling the need to talk to someone but who don't want to do it in a formal setting should check out the upcoming Walk & Talk led by Talking Mental.

Building on the positive response from last year's inaugural event. it is returning for 10 days starting from October 2 featuring an extensive list of participating organizations and experts.

Talking Mental founder Aaron Stadlin-Robbie, a long-term sufferer of anxiety and panic attacks himself, will be leading walks around Hong Kong along with local and expatriate experts who will be reflecting on different mental health themes.

Each day, the walks will feature different locations to encourage locals to join throughout the city.

Conversations shared from experts will be available as livestreams along the routes so that the community has an open platform and the opportunity to tune in live. Participants and viewers will also be able to pose questions to experts they wouldn't normally have access to.

"The mental health issues the youth are facing are tougher than we have seen in a very long time. Covid has put a magnifying glass over issues that have existed in the past as well as created a whole new set," said Stadlin-Robbie.

"We are living in a time where about 52 percent of secondary school pupils are showing symptoms of depression and the youth suicide rate has more than doubled from 2015.?With so many issues coming to the surface, we face a challenge to make sure that they are supported with the correct resources."

This year's Walk & Talk aims to attract a larger audience with an intent to raise awareness and remove the stigma attached to having conversations about mental health and the culture around seeking support.

It will finish at the Talking Mental Hub, a three-day pop-up public event located at Central Harbourfront.

At the hub, there will be six panel discussions per day covering different themes and concepts surrounding mental health such as sleep, relationships and anxiety.

Participants can also visit various booths by Walk & Talks' 10 partners, including Mind Hong Kong, Mental Health Foundation and Shall We Talk.

There will also be a range of fun activities to experience such as Lululemon's ice bath breathing session and Vivek Mahubani's light comedic workshop on how to change your perspective.

Students will benefit from this event as it is out of the formal school setting, said Stadlin-Robbie.

"When speaking to students, we have found that they don't want to talk about issues at school due to the fear of rumors being spread. So we created this platform outside of the school ecosystem," he said.

"In doing so, we have a space where they can openly talk to experts and get exposure to others who are going through similar issues. By having this platform, we not only want to help students speak out but to get them in contact with people who can help."

Website: www.talkingmental.com

ivy.ong@singtaonewscorp.com



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