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Why is your teenager stressed?

Are you worried about your teenager?

Why is the suicide rate of 15-24 year olds on the rise in Hong Kong?

Parenting the average adolescent is a daunting task, but how do you navigate the added stress and mental health concerns that plague many Hong Kong teens?

Let’s look at the broad picture of Hong Kong student life.

School interviews often begin at age three. Schools are seen as hierarchical in nature: some are considered better, more elite than others. Where you child is accepted is just the beginning of a potential gauntlet of perceived and actual pressures from family, school, and peer group. Over time, these pressures are stoked with added tutorials, extra-curricular activities and a shocking lack of sleep and exercise.

As your child grows into their teens, they become increasingly aware of conflicting cultural and social factors that further influence their schooling experience. The picture can be progressively detailed, but on a broad level is clear and difficult to misinterpret.

Although local and international schools face different challenges, neither are immune to problems. The Hong Kong Jockey Club Centre for Suicide Research and Prevention, out of HKU, reports and researches on an increase in adolescent suicide rates in past years [1]. Their research and work in program development and support services is just the start and although targeting the local school population, we know the topic is far reaching and a present concern in the International context too.

For such international school students, the privilege of studying in a diverse, progressive and broad thinking environment is life changing and ideally beneficial for their development as learners. That said, as the teenage brain is still under significant development, students are not always capable of dealing - in isolation - with the onslaught of influence and pressure.

Sadly, we see that interpersonal skills, communication, resiliency building, and problem solving often take the back seat to school work and regimented scheduling.

As caregiver, it is assumed you want the best for your child, and their future prospects. Are you worried, however, that you might need outside help?

Mental health provision - such as counselling therapy - is a great first point to start.

Raising your child in Hong Kong does not have to be defined by doom and gloom. However, with the pressure, lack of open communication, and unintended negative reinforcement, even the happiest teen can begin to develop unhealthy thought patterns. These patterns can develop into depression, anxiety, and worse.

Evidence shows that talking about these feelings and thoughts can help; understanding and working toward change (rather than placing blame) is key.

A counsellor can help.

Stephanie Young M.Ed, B.Ed (Counselling) can be consulted at The Round Clinic.

T. 2648 2612

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