Hong Kong Stressful Life Events and Life Satisfaction Survey

05 March 2018

Latest research from the Department of Psychiatry of the University of Hong Kong (HKU) found that more than half (54.4%) of Hong Kong people experienced one or more stressful life events in the past year. The research, as a part of the Jockey Club Mental Wellness Project for Women,funded by The Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust, found that more women had greater stress than men in more stressful life event, and their life satisfaction level was more susceptible to stress. It was also the first-ever study to discover that women who had lower life satisfaction were less likely to reveal their mental health problem to others.

The Department of Psychiatry of the HKU commissioned the HKU Public Opinion Programme to conduct the “Hong Kong Stressful Life Events and Life Satisfaction Survey” from January to February 2018, in order to examine the prevalence of life stress in Hong Kong and its influence on life satisfaction. Telephone interviews with a total of 1,514 Cantonese-speaking Hong Kong residents, including 567 men and 947 women, aged 18 or above were conducted anonymously. Professor Eric Chen Yu Hai, the Head of the Department of Psychiatry of the HKU and Dr. Sherry Chan Kit Wa, Clinical Assistant Professor of the Department of Psychiatry of the HKU released the key findings of the Survey at a press conference today (March 5).

The Survey unfolded that women experienced more stressful life events than men in the past year. Women had 1) more health-related stressors about themselves or others, and 2) more family-or-relationship-related stressors, while men had more work-or-academic-related stressors than women. Women’s life satisfaction dropped significantly when they were exposed to health-related stressors, regardless of whether these events were self- or others-related. Nonetheless, men were not affected by health-related stressors. On the other hand, family-or-relationship-related stressors remarkably harmed the life satisfaction of both genders.

Ms Imelda Chan, the Jockey Club's Head of Charities (Grant Making – Elderly, Rehabilitation, Medical, Environment & Family), said, “The Club is Hong Kong’s largest charity donor, and has long been supporting mental wellness projects. We will join HKU, Caritas Hong Kong, Hong Kong Federation of Women's Centres and the New Life Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association this coming May to launch the Jockey Club Mental Wellness Project for Women, which will be the first mental wellness project designated for women to combine academic research and public education, as well as the provision of preventive, early interventional therapy and referral services for local women. In addition, it will raise the public’s understanding of common mental health problems among women to enhance both their own and their family members’ psychological health.”

The research showed that stressful life events adversely affected men and women’s life satisfaction. Life satisfaction declined when both genders experienced two or more stressors. However, women’s life satisfaction was already affected when experiencing a single stressor, while men were not. Life satisfaction in turn, would affect a person’s willingness to reveal mental conditions to others. When life satisfaction score increases one unit, there would be an overall increase of 16.0% in the likelihood of revealing mental conditions to others in the whole population, with 24.7% increase in women, but an insignificant increase in men.

As ‘International Women’s Day’ (March 8 yearly) is approaching, it is hoped that the findings of this research would raise the public awareness on women’s mental health, thus promoting the development of the mental health education and services for women.


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