Why it’s time for men to talk about mental health
Mental health has always been an under-discussed issue in Asia. In Hong Kong, a city where its citizens face an immense amount of work-place stress, family pressure, and financial stress, mental health problems are widespread. For various reasons, Hong Kong men are more prone to developing mental health problems than women.
In this article by Pacific Prime Hong Kong, we will discuss why it’s time for men to talk about mental health. We will go through the growing mental health epidemic in the city, its causes, as well as its remedies.
Mental health problems Hong Kong’s male population
In the financial hub of Asia, there are about twice as many men suffering from mental illness as women. Here are some key findings that hint to the bubbling mental health problem among men in Hong Kong:
- Around 900 suicides occur in Hong Kong each year
- Hong Kong’s suicide rate is ranked 6th in Asia
- Suicide rates for men aged between 30 and 59 almost double in past financial crises
- 16% of young adolescents in Hong Kong suffer from a mental disorder
But why is this the case? Don’t all citizens, regardless of gender, face the same level of pressure in the city’s highly-competitive, ultra action-packed work environment? Aren’t both men and women suffering from financial stress when it comes to the city’s rising cost of living and housing problems?
To get a better understanding as to why mental health issues are more common among men in Hong Kong, we have to take a closer look at the more nuanced factors in Hong Kong society.
Causes of mental health problems for men
On top of the typical stressors that you’d expect to find in Hong Kong, such as personal finances and workplace environment, Hong Kong men face a sea of underlying societal pressure that’s been largely left unaddressed and unrecognized.
Men tend to find it more difficult to express their emotions and are less willing to talk to others about mental health problems. While this problem is being actively addressed in other countries, it is often viewed as being trivial in Hong Kong society.
When men refuse to talk about their stressors, mental health problems can become more prolonged and exacerbated.
This can be due to a perceived sense of masculinity in men that discourages them from talking about their own mental health to others. Or perhaps it’s due to the concept of saving face and male pride in Chinese culture. Ultimately, however, mental health issues often manifested themselves when these men were still young adolescents.
A survey found that one in every three young Hong Kongers were suffering from mental health issues, such as stress, anxiety, and depression.
One of the key causes of this is the city’s culture of authoritarian parenting, low parental warmth, and high maternal over-control. A study on adolescent suicide in Hong Kong found that these factors are associated with mental health problems in Hong Kong, including suicide contemplation.
For sons, there is also an added pressure to perform exceptionally well in school through to university, especially when they have younger siblings.
These parental expectations contribute to the mental health problems young Hong Kongers face.
Stigma against homosexual men
In Hong Kong, sexual minorities, especially homosexual men, still face a high level of sexual discrimination in public. Studies have found that sexual prejudice occurs in various public institutions from schools to the workplace.
Being alienated from society negatively impacts your psychological wellbeing, leading to more mental illnesses being found in Hong Kong’s homosexual men.
A survey of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Hongkongers found that up to a third had attempted suicide, while a quarter had depression – six times the share of the city’s population.
Given how widespread mental health problems are in Hong Kong’s male population, it’s important to find out what the early signs of these illnesses are.
What symptoms should I look out for?
The most common types of mental illnesses found in Hong Kong are depressive and anxiety disorders. Here are the symptoms of these two mental illnesses, according to the Hong Kong Department of Health’s Center for Health Protection.
Symptoms of depressive disorders:
- Depressed mood
- Loss of interest or pleasure
- Poor appetite
- Feeling of worthlessness
- Impaired concentration
- Suicidal thoughts
Symptoms of anxiety disorders:
- Generalized anxiety disorder – consistent and exaggerated worrisome thoughts and tension about everyday routine life events
- Panic disorder – repeated attacks of intense terror that strike often and without warning
- Social anxiety disorder – disabling fear of scrutiny, embarrassment, or humiliation in social situations
- Post-traumatic stress disorder – persistent discomfort feelings that occur after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event
What can I do about it?
Like other physical illnesses, there are always various things you can do to prevent mental illnesses from arising or, at the very least, alleviate their symptoms.
For instance, to prevent mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety, the Center for Health Protection recommends the following:
- Talk to someone (your partner, a friend, or counselor) about how you feel
- Keep active by going outdoors or exercising regularly
- Use mindfulness techniques, such as meditation or yoga
- Do something which makes you relax like going on a vacation or getting a massage
If symptoms worsen, make sure you get access to mental healthcare through a psychiatrist, psychologist, or counselor as soon as possible.
Getting your costs covered
In Hong Kong, visiting a mental health professional can cost from HKD $500 to as high as HKD $3,000 per hour, depending on your choice of clinic and the nature of your illness.
Fortunately, most major insurers will offer insurance coverage for mental health-related care. If you have any questions about the nature of mental health coverage in Hong Kong, you can contact our experts at Pacific Prime at any time.
As health insurance brokers, Pacific Prime partners with top insurers, such as AXA, Allianz, and Cigna, to provide the best individual health insurance for you in Hong Kong. We also offer free plan comparisons, specializing in medical insurance for expats in Hong Kong.
In his free time, Phuwit enjoys reading and playing badminton. He also loves a good cup of coffee.
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