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Christian Service News

Issue 65 (October 2009)
Opinion Feedback

Prevent Generational Depression -
Survey and Suggestions

The World Health Organization estimated that by the year 2020, psychological depression would become the number-two disease in the world, second to heart disease. With the increase of knowledge of Hong Kong people towards psychological depression, there is a gradual rise of concern for this disease. However, the situation of these patients' children is rarely addressed.

In June, "Project Life MSN" conducted surveys and interviews with 47 children and youths ranging from age 6 to 15. They all have fathers or mothers who are suffering from psychological depression. We discovered that 50% of these children manifest symptoms of psychological depression such as "the inability to focus on doing something," "a drop in the quality of sleep," and "feeling low and unhappy."

We found that the interviewees need to take care of their sick parents both emotionally and in their day-to-day living. These children rarely express their own lack of care to their parents or others. They quietly bare the burden and manifest negative feelings such as crying, frustration, anger and guilt. 50% of the interviewed have or are currently receiving mental health care, including psychiatric treatment and counseling from either social workers or psychologists. The survey found that the older the interviewees, and those living with single parents, the higher the chance for them to receive mental health care.

We need to be very concerned with the emotional and physical health condition of children whose parents are suffering from psychological depression. In order to prevent generational depression, we suggest that a mechanism be established whereby the patients with young children can be identified. There should also be a one-stop recovery treatment plan with the family in mind. Aside from providing assistance to these families, "Project Life MSN" also targets helping families open up the family secret of depression. It promotes family intimacy so that they can face the problem together to prevent "generational depression."

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