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LCQ14: Emotional health of students

    Following is a question by the Hon Lau Kong-wah and a written reply by the Secretary for Education, Mr Michael Suen, in the Legislative Council today (November 21):


     Regarding the emotional health of students, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) whether it knows the number of primary and secondary students seeking emotional counselling from school social workers in the past two years, with a breakdown by their reasons for seeking assistance;

(b) of the authorities' existing policy on providing emotional counselling services for primary and secondary students;

(c) apart from the counselling services provided by school social workers, whether activities on emotional health are being organised regularly for primary and secondary students;

(d) whether it has estimated the percentage of students currently having emotional problems in the total number of primary and secondary students; and

(e) whether it will consider providing additional resources for promoting emotional health among students?


Madam President,

(a) The Education Bureau (EDB) does not collect the number of cases of primary and secondary students seeking emotional counselling from school social workers and their reasons for seeking assistance.

     According to the information reported by non-governmental organisations to the statistical information system of the Social Welfare Department, amongst the cases handled by social workers in secondary schools in the past two years (i.e. the 2005-06 and 2006-07 financial years), the number of times involving emotional or psychological health problems in such cases was about 26 000 per year.  As certain students had emotional and psychological needs at the same time and hence might be double-counted, the figure quoted above does not represent the number of students.  Also, the above statistics does not have the breakdown of reasons for seeking assistance.

(b) The Government attaches importance to the healthy development of students, emphasing the policy of "prevention is better than cure" by seeking to enhance students' emotion management skills through school curriculum and relevant guidance programmes.  Moreover, there is the provision of school social workers in secondary schools, student guidance personnel in primary schools and educational psychologists to identify and handle students with emotional problems as well as to make the necessary referrals.  

(c) The programmes/activities that are being organised to promote the emotional health of secondary and primary students include:

(i) The EDB provides secondary and primary schools with educational psychology service which includes, inter alia, psychological assessment for students with emotional problems, consultation and training for teachers, support for school personnel in conducting emotion management programmes, participation in case conferences to facilitate home-school collaboration, etc.  Educational psychologists also support schools in using the "Assessment Program for Affective & Social Outcomes" to assess students' performance in the affective and social domains.  Such information serves as the basis for schools to work out preventive measures.

(ii) Since the 2004/05 school year, EDB has implemented the "Understanding Adolescent Project" for primary schools, aiming to assist students to enhance their resilience (including adopting an optimistic attitude and effective emotion management to rise to the challenges in face of adversity).  This project makes use of the "Hong Kong Student Information Forms" to identify students with the need for the "Intensive Programme".

(iii) The Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust has allocated $400 million to implement a scheme, namely "Positive Adolescent Training through Holistic Social Programmes to Adulthood: A Jockey Club Youth Enhancement Scheme", in secondary schools starting from the 2004/05 school year.  The Scheme, with the joint efforts of the Social Welfare Department, five universities and the EDB, aims to provide comprehensive training programme/activities for junior secondary students to promote their healthy development. The topics mainly include emotion management and expressive skills.  

(iv) The Student Health Service provided by the Department of Health safeguards the physical and psychosocial health of students and enables them to maximize their potential through comprehensive and preventive health programmes.  Students receive an annual assessment, including psychological health screening, through which they gain access to a range of support services.  To proactively reach out to adolescents, an Adolescent Health Programme was rolled out in the 2001/02 school year by the Department of Health to promote students' psychosocial health, improve emotion management skills and knowledge, and enhance their resilience through training.

(v) The EDB also promotes Life Education in school curricula so as to nurture positive and optimistic attitudes in students which would enable them to face setbacks and pressures in life.  Life Education forms an integral part of Moral and Civic Education of the school curricula.  How primary and secondary students can handle pressures and manage their emotions is one of the key topics covered by Life Education.  The subject content of General Studies in primary schools also includes similar topics.

(d) In the 2006/07 school year, the respective numbers of secondary and primary students who were assessed as having emotional problems by educational psychologists are 994 and 412, representing 0.2% and 0.1% of the total numbers of secondary and primary students respectively.

(e) All along, the Government is concerned about the emotional health of students.  Resources have been allocated to implement various services.  In addition, the Government will provide some 1,000 programme workers for 3 years to assist social workers in secondary schools to implement activities, aiming to assist secondary students to develop their potential, and promote their health and wellness.  The Government will closely monitor the emotional health of students as well as to review from time to time the relevant services.

Ends/Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Issued at HKT 18:39


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