Background : The surge of youth suicide in 2016 has revealed undesirable mental situation of adolescents in Hong Kong. Depression is a major disease burden for adolescents globally. The health-seeking behaviour of youngsters will definitely affect their long term health outcomes.
Material : An anonymous online survey was conducted by the Hong Kong Paediatric Society and the Hong Kong Paediatric Foundation on teenagers in April 2016 to review their mental health status.
Results : Total 1,685 secondary school students aged 12-17 years old (39.5% male and 60.5% female) were recruited from 11 local schools. It was found that 27% considered harming themselves or committing suicide over the past six months. 62% respondents felt sad and 63% suffered from insomnia. Furthermore, 8% of students had been cyber bullied. 40% of the bullied victims were depressed and 18% even considered ending their lives. Sixty-six percent of survey respondents would self-manage their health issues including mental health problems through internet search rather than seeking medical attention. Weight issue, mental health problems and skin condition were the top three health topics searched. Most of them purely relied on number of “likes” or “shares” of the health information to make health decisions. The low health literacy of Hong Kong students would render them into disastrous health consequences.
Conclusions : The high mental health risks and low health literacy of Hong Kong adolescents have created major health threats for the new generation. Health literacy refers to the ability to acquire, understand and evaluate basic health information in order to make appropriate medical decisions. We have to engage healthcare professionals, families, government and all stakeholders to equip our young people to face the emerging health challenges as part of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). A comprehensive Child Health Policy is the most cost-effective strategy to achieve the purpose.