25 April 2019

Let’s “WORK HEART” with us!
CUHK Kickoffs Asia’s Largest Child and Adolescent Mental Health Study



Hong Kong’s first child and adolescent mental health study, namely “WORK HEART”, has been started by the Department of Psychiatry and the Department of Psychology at The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK). This inter-disciplinary team is now recruiting 8,000 local students to participate in a series of comprehensive assessments and intensive studies. The study will help achieve a comprehensive understanding towards the risk and protective factors influencing child and adolescent development, and eventually create a mental health-friendly environment for our future generations.

To fully express the key message and the ultimate goal of the study, the “WORK HEART” research team had invited some children and teenagers to share their thoughts and feelings in the promotional video. During the nearly three-and-a-half-minute clip, the young people told the team their needs to be listened to and understood, apart from being nurtured to develop their grit and work harder, bringing up the key message, “Work Heart” in place of “Work Hard”. The promo was published through the project’s website and Facebook page, and was shared by numerous social media platforms.

Recruiting 8,000 students for detailed interview and study

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines “health” as “there is no health without mental health.” Being healthy is not mere absence of disease, it is, in fact, a state of physical and psychological well-being. Childhood and adolescence are the prime times in life to build the foundation for health across lifespan. As reflected by most epidemiological studies, more than half of the adulthood mental and psychological problems could be traced back to experiences in childhood and adolescence. It is thus an imperative to enhance societal mental wellness through understanding the state of mental health as well the underlying protective and risk factors in the child and adolescent population. The only and best way to achieve it begins with a local child and adolescent mental health research.

The Mental Health Review Report published by the government in 2017 had pointed out the increasing number of children and adolescents diagnosed with mental illnesses in the public setting. There is obviously much room for improvement in the supporting services. It was estimated in the 2008 mental census conducted by CUHK, in which no diagnostic interviewing tool was employed, approximately 16.4% local adolescents suffered from mental disorders. Hong Kong population needs a better estimate and characterization of the prevalence of mental health conditions, and the underlying risk protective factors through a scientifically rigorous method. Amongst the many survey approaches to the community’s health care needs, the epidemiological approach combined with standardized diagnostic measures represent the highest standard of research for such enquiry.  

“WORK HEART” is initiated by the Advisory Committee on Mental Health. The study is funded by the Food and Health Bureau and supported by the Education Bureau. It is expected to complete in two-and-a-half years. “WORK HEART” is recruiting 8,000 students aged from 6-17 from over 100 primary and secondary schools. Random sampling is adopted to collect data representative of the whole of Hong Kong. The selected students and/ or their parents will participate in a detailed interview covering mental health diagnoses and other biopsychosocial factors. A sub-group of 1,000 students will­ be invited to participate in an intensive study when more health indicators will be measured to understand the complex relationship between developing brains, mind, lifestyle and behavior, sleep and activities, as well as genetics.

The research team expects to achieve a comprehensive understanding towards the risk and protective factors influencing child and adolescent development and a conceptualization of the paths to wellbeing, distress and disease states. The results will provide a locally valid and authentic scientific basis for policy makers in healthcare, education and social welfare sectors to co-create a better environment for the next generation.

For more details please visit:

“WORK HEART” official website: http://workheart.cuhk.edu.hk

“WORK HEART” Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/workhearthk

The research team has invited children and teenagers to share their thoughts and feelings in a promotional video to express the key message of “WORK HEART”.
The research team has invited children and teenagers to share their thoughts and feelings in a promotional video to express the key message of “WORK HEART”.