26 November 2020
21 June 2018
Working Adults Report Psychological Distress, with Almost Half Being Reluctant to Seek Help
CUHK Launches the First One-stop Online Psychological Self-help Platform

Hong Kong’s working population has been renowned for its high efficiency but long working hours. A supportive workplace that embraces diversity and is conducive to employees’ mental health can enhance work engagement and productivity by reducing employees’ absenteeism and their coming to work whilst sick. To understand Hong Kong full-time working adults’ attitudes towards mental health, a team of researchers led by Professor Winnie MAK, Principal Investigator of the Jockey Club TourHeart Project (the “Project”) and Professor of Department of Psychology, The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), conducted a telephone survey from 23 November to 1 December 2017 with 1,008 full-time working adults who were 18 or above (50.7% female, 49.3% male). The effective response rate was 52%.

The Youngest Age Group Fares the Worst

The survey found that 1 in 4 respondents (24.3%) had anxiety and/or depressive symptoms. Among various age groups, the youngest adult group (aged 18 to 29) experienced the highest rate of anxiety and/or depressive symptoms (37.2%), while scoring the lowest on meaning in life and fulfilment. More women respondents (24%) had anxiety than their male counterparts (18.9%), while for depression, both men (14.5%) and women (13.9%) shared a similar rate. The survey also showed that respondents who perceived themselves to have a higher sense of control at work, and received greater supervisor support were significantly less likely to feel depressed or anxious.

Misconceptions Toward Mental Illness at the Workplace, Almost Half Felt Reluctant to Seek Professional Mental Health Services

Over half of the respondents regarded colleagues with mental illness as being unable to work under pressure (53.8%), felt uncertain about assigning important tasks to them (46.4%); and more than half did not consider people who had experienced mental illness as having the ability to take up management positions in a company (57.9%). Almost half of the respondents (46.2%) showed low levels of willingness to seek help from professionals if they felt distressed. Only one-third of the respondents (36.6%) were willing to discuss mental health-related issues with others, and 17.3% of them were interested in participating in mental health-related activities. 

Professor MAK said, “In general, working adults are ill-informed about mental health. Because of that, they tend not to take good care of their own mental health. Meanwhile, perpetuating misconceptions about mental illness at the work place impede employees’ willingness to seek help. From now on, employee mental health should be a top priority for each company. Business performance may suffer as a result of poor employee mental health, which can lead to long-term adverse consequences for companies and society at large. When each employee can experience positive  mental health, it is a win-win situation for all parties.” 

“The Club has joined hands with CUHK and New Life Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association to launch the Jockey Club TourHeart Project with the aim of enhancing employees’ mental health in Hong Kong,” said The Hong Kong Jockey Club Head of Charities Imelda CHAN. “The Project will see the establishment of the first mental health platform in Hong Kong. Through its stepped-care model, various activities, courses and services will be designed to provide support to people with different levels of mental health needs. The project will also be promoted to enterprises to encourage them to pay attention to and improve employees’ mental health.” 

The Jockey Club TourHeart Project: Hong Kong’s First One-stop Online Personalized Platform for Mental Health

To address this situation, The Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust donated HK$16.31 million to CUHK and New Life Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association to launch the three-year Project that has been running successfully since September 2017. Through combining research and technology, this Project develops the first stepped-care mental health platform in Hong Kong to provide services that cater to different levels of psychological need. Services are provided online and offline. 

Through the Project’s online platform, working adults can access an array of online mental health tools and programmes anytime, anywhere. All registered members can take part in self-guided online modules, coach-guided online courses as needed, or receive guided self-help interventions from psychological well-being officers. After signing up as members by completing a brief online mental health check-up, the system will automatically recommend appropriate services to members according to their current mental health profiles. Every time members complete the check-up, the intensity of the services will be adjusted according to their responses. In addition to online services, various offline activities, such as Storytelling Days, well-being related workshops, and public exhibitions will be held to reduce the public’s misconceptions of mental illness and to promote mental health. It is expected that the online platform will be officially launched on 29 June 2018.  For details, please refer to the announcement from the Project’s Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/jctourheart.

About the Inaugural Symposium: Stepped Care Services and Work Place Mental Health

The Project will organise the inaugural symposium on 29 June 2018. A number of distinguished speakers from the healthcare and human resources sector will share their knowledge and experience in the domains of stepped-care model implementation and work place mental health. This symposium has been very well received since it was first announced and, as a result, registration has already been closed. For further information, please visit: http://jcthsymposium2018.com/


Diversity and Well-Being Laboratory, Department of Psychology, CUHK
The Diversity and Well-Being Laboratory is committed to promoting social inclusion and individuals’ well-being. Understanding the connection between stigma and well-being through basic and applied research, the laboratory develops training and educational materials to reduce the stigma attached to various health conditions or social identities and promotes well-being to the general public, based on scientific evidence.

New Life Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association
New Life Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association strives to promote mental wellness for people in recovery from mental illness and for their families and the general public, with the ultimate goal of equal opportunity, social inclusion, acceptance and full participation for all in the community. New Life Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association is dedicated to pioneering and delivering people-focused, recovery-oriented, evidence-based community mental health services with care and respect, and to innovation and a continuous drive for excellence and professionalism.


StoryTaler works to promote mental health and reduce stigma in the community. Its members consist of individuals who have lived the experience of mental illness, individuals with a psychology background and professional training, and community members who are interested in mental well-being and are supportive of its cause. StoryTaler aims to bridge scientific evidence about mental well-being and illness with personal stories to reduce stigma and promote equality and raise the community’s awareness of mental health. StoryTaler embraces the principles of equal participation and co-production wherein all members participate in the developmental process and co-produce educational and promotional materials together, according to each member’s strengths.

Ms. Imelda Chan, Head of Charities (Grant Making – Elderly, Rehabilitation, Medical, Environment & Family), The Hong Kong Jockey Club, delivered the welcome remarks

(From left) Miss Amanda Fu (StoryTaler), Dr. Candice Powell (New Life Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association), Ms. Imelda Chan (The Hong Kong Jockey Club), Prof. Winnie Mak (CUHK), and Dr. Amy Chan (CUHK), took a group photo on promoting mental health and anti-stigma among working adults

(From left) Dr. Amy Chan and Prof. Winnie Mak shared the telephone survey results on “Attitudes Towards Mental Health Among Working Adults” and introduced the Jockey Club TourHeart Project