By Gigi Chiu 12 Feb 2017
With rapid rise of student suicide cases in the UK and Hong Kong, both governments have recently taken steps to implement student mental health support systems in schools in recognition of the seriousness of the problem.
In Hong Kong, the government has launched a pilot scheme implementing some of the measures recommended by the final report of the Committee on Prevention of Student Suicides completed in November 2016. The Student Mental Health Support Scheme started in September 2016 and will last for 2 years with regular school visits by senior psychiatric nurses. Other multi-disciplinary professionals including psychologists and social workers will also be involved in supporting students with mental health needs.
Last month in the UK, as reported in the Telegraph, Prime Minister Theresa May has announced that the government would provide more training, resources and support for dealing with and preventing mental health issues. The leader promised introduction of mental health first aid training for schools, which will help identify and respond to potential cases at an early stage. More money will also be invested in community clinics and crisis centres with the objective of reducing suicide rates. However, Dr Bernard Trafford, Headmaster of the Newcastle Upon Tyne Grammar School commented that preventative care should still be at the top of the agenda in addressing the mental health problems in schools.
In Hong Kong, there were 71 student suicide cases between 2013-16 and just within a week after the Chinese New Year holidays, 2 secondary students killed themselves within 24 hours. Meanwhile, research shows that one in four young people in the UK experiences suicidal thoughts and the number of children and young people who have presented to A&E with a psychiatric condition have more than doubled since 2009 (8,358 in 10/11; 17,278 in 13/14) (see YoungMinds.org.uk ).
(Edited by Dhruv Tikekar)