Mind Hong Kong launches #HowOkayAreYou campaign for World Mental Health Day

Today is World Mental Health Day 2019, and Mind Hong Kong has launched a campaign with the objective of inspiring Hongkongers to confront the stigma and make a pledge to change their behaviour around mental health.

The #HowOkayAreYou campaign is hoped to encourage people to talk more openly and honestly about their feelings and emotions. The campaign attempts to flips the script on an age-old question. When asked, ‘how are you’, the common response from Hongkongers is ‘okay’, no matter how they honestly feel. By asking #HowOkayAreYou, people are encouraged to reflect on their feelings and likely to respond more honestly. Mind HK is asking Hongkongers to make the following pledge to change their behaviour around mental health: “I pledge to ask #HowOkayAreYou and join Mind HK’s movement to confront the stigma surrounding mental health by having honest conversations about the way I feel and asking others how they feel”.

Mind HK’s new resources on a dedicated website include instructional videos such as “Spotting the signs” and a How to Ask digital guide which provides people with new approaches to check in on each other, such as tips on how to start the conversation.

Po Wan Cheng, COO of Mind HK, said: “The first step to reducing stigma around mental health is to increase the conversation around it. The #HowOkayAreYou campaign aims to inspire people in Hong Kong to engage with each other about their mental well-being and reduce the stigma around the topic of mental health. Informed by local culture and behaviour, the campaign provides tools that help people approach what many in Hong Kong feel is a difficult conversation. By understanding the channels that Hongkongers most commonly use to communicate, and their preferred language for difficult conversations, the campaign is relatable and easy to incorporate into everyday living.”

WhatsApp is one of the most common modes of communication in Hong Kong, and WhatsApp stickers are a popular way to engage with eachother to express feelings and emotions. So in addition, in order to create a new language for approaching these heavy conversations, Mind Hong Kong has also released a series of WhatsApp Stickers created by eight local Hong Kong illustrators. This relatable, comfortable and localized approach equips people to shift away from the standard answer of ‘okay’ by offering a vocabulary that not only identifies how they feel but also offers responses that Hongkongers can use to check in more honestly with family, friends and colleagues.

The campaign is a response to the continued declining trend of mental well-being in Hong Kong. “It has been a very difficult time for Hong Kong over the last few months, however, Hong Kong’s mental health problem has been recognised by the professional community as an issue for several years. We hope this campaign helps us make a positive step in the right direction,” said Po Wan.  

In September 2019 Mind HK (in partnership with Hong Kong Public Opinion Research Institute) commissioned research conducted using the World Health Organization Well-being Index (WHO-5). The survey found that 61% of respondents showed signs of “poor mental well-being, suggesting further assessment for depression is recommended”.

The results are a significant drop from previous studies undertaken in Hong Kong, with average WHO-5 well-being scores of 57.78 in 2015, 56.31 in 2016, 59.75 in 2017 and 50.2 in 2018 to 44.6 in 2019. Within the “poor” mental well-being group, past studies showed this accounted for 29% in 2015, 32% in 2016, 26% in 2017, and 48% in 2018, compared to 61% today.