Adolescent Mental Health Problems in Hong Kong: A Critical Review on Prevalence, Psychosocial Correlates, and Prevention

J Adolesc Health. 2019 Jun;64(6S):S73-S85. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2018.10.005.


Purpose: Adolescent mental health problems are a public health issue in Hong Kong and a review of the situation can have implications for intervention and prevention. This paper aims to review the available prevalence rates of mental health problems among adolescents in Hong Kong and examines the correlates of these conditions through a positive youth development (PYD) framework.

Methods: Local studies published in English between January 1995 and September 2017 were searched in ERIC, PsycArticles, PsycInfo, and PubMed. Data were selected and extracted by two reviewers. The primary outcome was the prevalence or the scores of mental health problems among adolescents. The secondary outcome was the correlates associated with the problems identified in the studies.

Results: Twenty-three studies were identified. The prevalence of depression was between 0.55% and 2.2% (three studies), whereas the prevalence for anxiety (one study) and generalized anxiety disorder (two studies) were 6.9% and 2.6%, respectively. Comparatively higher levels of depressive symptoms and lower levels of general mental health among Hong Kong adolescents than adolescents in other regions. The protective factors examined in these studies were categorized into PYD constructs, namely: cognitive competence, behavioral competence, emotional competence, resilience, and bonding with family, which were associated with better mental health.

Conclusions: This review contends that future mental health research and intervention for adolescents should focus more on PYD constructs and family factors.

Keywords: Adolescence; Anxiety; Depression; Hong Kong; Insomnia; Positive youth development; Psychosis.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't