There have been a number of tragic student suicides in Hong Kong in recent months, which has raised great concern in society about the mental health of students. In response to the Education Bureau's advocacy of promoting mental health awareness among students, Hong Kong Metropolitan University (HKMU) will earmark over HK$10 million in a three-year university-wide scheme to enhance student mental health (the Scheme), whose aim is to enhance students' understanding of and concern about mental health. By providing further education on psychological well-being, the Scheme aims to empower students to engage in self-help and in helping others, which may help reduce the potential risks.
The Scheme was initiated by HKMU Council Chairman Ir Dr Conrad Wong Tin-cheung. Expressing deep concern over the recent surge in the number of student suicide cases, he emphasised the significance of safeguarding the physical and mental well-being of, and cultivating a positive mentality among students. Aligned with the announcement of the “HKMU Strategic Plan 2024-2028”, student nurturing is a key priority in the University's development blueprint. The Scheme will strengthen support for students' mental health and provide them with relevant knowledge to facilitate early prevention, early identification and timely intervention. Ir Dr Wong stated, “The objective of the Scheme is clear. We encourage everyone to take an additional step in crisis prevention by enhancing awareness, fostering students' understanding of their inner well-being, establishing a positive mentality, and gradually spreading positive energy on the campus.”
The Scheme adopts a University-wide approach to support mental health among students via three dimensions: “universal”, “selective” and “indicated”. It encompasses various initiatives, such as offering “mental health first aid” courses for students, training instructors of “mental health first aid” courses and optimising the procedure for handling cases of mental distress.
At the “universal” level, HKMU will implement a mandatory 12-hour “mental health first aid” course, accredited by the Mental Health Association of Hong Kong, for first-year students in the 2024/25 academic year. The aim of the course is to equip students with the knowledge to identify early symptoms of mental disease and proactively seek help before their mental health situation deteriorates. Regarding the “selective” approach, HKMU embraces the concept of “train the trainers” to provide vocational training to suitable teachers and staff. Nurturing qualified “mental health first aid” instructors will reinforce the University's capability to identify and support students at risk of mental health issues. The Scheme also includes “indicated” measures, such as increasing the counselling manpower and reviewing the case management procedure to ensure timely and adequate support for students experiencing mental distress.
Gratitude has been extended to the Mental Health Association of Hong Kong, the Auxiliary Medical Service of HKSAR and Hong Kong Lutheran Social Service for their support to the scheme. HKMU President Prof. Paul Lam Kwan-sing said, “We have noticed the prevalence of mental distress among students in the 'post-pandemic' era. We believe that the mental well-being of students is just as important as their learning experience, and that a healthy and determined mindset is crucial for students to achieve greater success.”