Call to exercise more as 'blues index' rises

Local | Chuck Pang 20 Jan 2017

People who often feel blue should do more aerobic exercises to stay positive, mental health experts advise. The call comes as the "depression index" for Hongkongers reached a new high, a study has found.

A study conducted last year by the Mental Health Association of Hong Kong found that about 5.5 percent of respondents were identified as suffering from depression, while another 9.1 percent fell into the "case of concern" category.

Both were higher than the results in similar studies in 2012 and 2014.

The association analyzed about 2,500 questionnaires collected at 36 street polling stations to obtain the results. The questionnaire asked participants whether they felt tired and had a lack of energy, and whether they had any suicidal thoughts in the past fortnight and the frequency.

It was found that 14.6 percent of the participants were depressed or marginal cases - three percentage points higher than previous studies.

"The government should work with all sectors in society to formulate a long- term mental health policy, especially in prevention and education," association assistant director Ching Chi-kong said yesterday while revealing the study's findings.

"Mental health education should be taught at a young age. The government should put more resources on increasing youngsters' and the public's mental health knowledge and their prevention ability."

Stephen Sun Yu-kit, study researcher and lecturer at City University's School of Continuing and Professional Education, said: "From our analysis, the more one does aerobic exercises, the less likely one will have a high depression level."

Those with a higher income tend to feel happier, he added.

Kin, 29, a breadwinner for his family since losing his parents at 13, attempted to jump off a bridge last year as he was in a lawsuit over a work-related injury.

He was rescued by a passerby and sent to hospital. "The doctor told me my family background, lack of interests and motivations and being under pressure over a long period of time were the causes of my depression," Kin said.

He then sought help from the association and now volunteers there helping others to fight depression.

According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 350 million people of all ages suffer from depression and by 2030, it will be the leading cause of disease burden globally. At its worst, it can lead to suicide, which is the second leading cause of death in the 15- to 29-year-old age group.

The association aims to promote and educate the public on mental health.

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