Are you feeling lost and overwhelmed when navigating the maze of mental health in Hong Kong? With the added burden of shame and stigma, it’s easy to feel like you’re wandering aimlessly without a compass. But don’t let the post-truth world discourage you from seeking the support and camaraderie you need. In fact, it’s more vital now than ever to find a tribe of empathetic and dependable companions to join you on your path towards healing and happiness. Don’t give up hope! The journey may be arduous, but with the right community by your side, you can overcome any obstacle and emerge stronger than ever.
61% of young adults have poor mental well-being. What should we do?
The numbers don’t lie: Hong Kong is facing a mental health crisis. It’s a battle that affects us all, with a staggering 61% of young adults struggling with poor mental well-being. It’s no surprise that 1 in 7 people have struggled with their mental health at some point in their lives, leaving them feeling helpless and alone. The Springtide Research Institute’s State of Religion & Young People 2022 report revealed the state of young people’s mental health in the face of the pandemic: with 53% of surveyed youth citing mental health as their biggest challenge, it seems the struggle really is real. But the pain runs deeper as nearly two-thirds of those surveyed say that the adults in their lives don’t understand the extent of their turmoil, and a significant 21% feeling utterly isolated and alone. Is this the true cost of the pandemic on the next generation?
It’s no surprise that 1 in 7 people have struggled with their mental health at some point in their lives, leaving them feeling helpless and alone.
Personally, I am one of the 1 in 7 who suffer from multiple clusters of mental health challenges. As I ponder my daily struggles, I can’t help but feel a sense of unease and despair, possibly akin to what Jesus experienced in the hours leading up to his crucifixion. It’s as if an unseen force is constantly radiating negativity and fear around me, making it hard to find happiness and peace. But just like Jesus, I know that it’s possible to overcome these challenges – and find ways to improve my mental health, even in the darkest of times.
It’s no secret that struggles with mental health can be a lonely road to travel, but God is always with us and in us during both the good moments and bad moments of life. One of my own darkest moments was during my COVID quarantine last March. All of my childhood trauma flowed out into my mind and overwhelmed me. At one point, I felt so hopeless and was going to give up.
Later that day, the Lord spoke to me via a seemingly unrelated WhatsApp message from one of my Christian friends. The message quoted Romans 5.1-5 while highlighting that the process of suffering produces perseverance; perseverance then produces character, and character, hope. I immediately felt touched by God and I felt peace on the spot, although I initially misunderstood what the verse truly meant. Later, I found that this was a signal from God to stop for a moment and seek for clarity.
I do agree that it is quite challenging to deal with the feelings of shamefulness and stigma. That is the reason why you need brothers and sisters to be with you during these difficult moments of life, as I consider “love” to be the solution to all problems in this world. This reminds me of a final command Jesus gave to us before His death and resurrection, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another” (John 13.34 NIV). It is wonderful to be part of my care group, who walk alongside me during difficult moments in life and in my journey of healing. In fact, these interactions with brothers and sisters in my group are healing to me.
It is wonderful to be part of my care group, who walk alongside me during difficult moments in life and in my journey of healing. In fact, these interactions with brothers and sisters in my group are healing to me.
One of my professors once said that we are all social creatures and have a natural inclination to interact with and form relationships with each other. Humans also have a strong need for social connection and a sense of belonging. Similarly, Brené Brown, the author of “Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead,” shares her unique insights on belongingness and loneliness in a TED Talk on vulnerability, highlighting that everyone has a yearning to be part of a community. More importantly, Brown encourages us to embrace vulnerability and to be open to uncertainty and emotional exposure, as it allows us to develop meaningful connections with others.
Personally, I think the most hurtful experience someone could ever have is abandonment. As He knows our needs (Matthew 6.8), I think God purposely made the church as a place for people to come together and love one another. From a psychological view, a book written by Dr. Yip Kan-Shing suggests that there are three relational needs that apply to everyone, namely being here, being there, and giving. From my perspective, my care group and fellowship fulfills all three needs and always comforts me when I am together with them.
… there are three relational needs that apply to everyone, namely being here, being there, and giving. From my perspective, my care group and fellowship fulfills all three needs and always comforts me when I am together with them.
“I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4.13 NIV)
After embarking on a journey of self-discovery, I have encountered a plethora of mental health experts from all walks of life – from psychologists to psychiatrists and beyond. While I can’t dismiss the value of seeking professional help, what truly transformed my mental health was not the pills prescribed by my psychiatrist, but the authentic interactions and relationships I formed with my brothers and sisters.
“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6.2 NIV)
As mentioned above, I do believe that love is the solution to all problems, and care groups and fellowships are the means to accept love from others and from God. Being part of a care group or a fellowship is important to me as it is one of my major channels for receiving love from brothers and sisters, as well as from God. The interactions with my care group also remind me of my identity as a child of the one true King, amid the spiritual warfare in the last days.
The interactions with my care group also remind me of my identity as a child of the one true King, amid the spiritual warfare in the last days.
In the end, it’s important to remember that you have the strength within you to overcome your mental health struggles. Whether it’s through the support of others, the love of God, or simply the strength you carry within you, know that you can get through this.
Last but not the least, I would like to share a quote that stood out to me when I was writing this article:
“Love is our true destiny. We do not find the meaning of life by ourselves – we find it with another” – Thomas Merton