04 Mental Well-being


1. Mental health
  • A state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community (WHO, 2014)
2. Characteristics of an emotionally healthy person
  • With the ability (1) to recognize and express emotions properly and (2) to cope with stress, worries and depression in daily life
3. Factors affect mental health

Biological Perspective

  • Mind and body are connected as a holistic system
  • Emotions and memory are managed by brain
Psychological Perspective
  • Experience in personal development
  • Self-concept
Social Perspective
  • Family, community, society and culture etc.
  • Social / economic changes / welfare system etc.

4. Stress

What is stress?
  • Stress is the physiological, emotional and behavioural reactions to a particular stressor, when the existing resources are not sufficient to cope with the external demand.
  • Eustress – a positive form of stress, usually related to desirable events in a person’s life
  • Distress – a negative form of stress, usually related to keeping people from doing the things they need to do or cause discomfort
  • Disastrous Events
  • Life events
  • Physical environment
Stress reaction
  • Physiological reaction – e.g. heavy breathing
  • Emotional reaction – e.g. the feeling of tension
  • Behavioural reaction – e.g. nail biting
Strategies for coping with stress
  • Coping with problem Directly dealing with stressors
  • Coping with emotion Strategies to relieve emotions
5. Types of mental problems/disorders:
  • Presence of persistent depressed mood, lack of interest or motivation and negative thinking


  • Excessive or irrational fear to a particular object or situation
Post-traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Intrusive memory of the traumatic event, avoidance of situations that are reminders of the trauma, and hyper-arousal symptoms such as being easily startled and difficulty in sleeping


  • Disturbance of thinking and perception
6. Social isolation / exclusion and mental illness
  • prone to violence
  • unpredictable behavior
  • inability to make rational decisions
Negative Impacts
  • Discrimination: unfair treatment to patients
  • Social isolation: patients isolate themselves
  • Higher risk of relapse: patients may conceal their case history and hinder early diagnosis of the problem / treatment
7. Possible impact of poor mental health and stress:
  • the risk of suicide attempts is higher among those with depression
Productivity / efficiency loss
  • unable to cope with stress in normal life and work effectively
Burden on family members
  • taking care of a mental patient is a major stressor
  • caregivers may need to quit their jobs
  • conflicts between the patients and family members
8. Rehabilitation
  • Long-term hospitalization : dependency and social withdrawal / adaptation problems of reintegration after long term segregation
  • Release of hospitalized patients into the community : closer contact with families and the community
Rehabilitation service
  • Hospital Authority :
    • in-patient, e.g. occupational therapists;
    • out-patient, e.g. community psychiatric services
  • NGOs : e.g. sheltered workshops, halfway houses
Family care and support
  • Care
    • help patients to follow the treatment and medication;
    • take care of the patients in daily lives
  • Emotional support
Integration into the community
  • Self-help groups
  • Training on social skills and living skills
  • Vocational training

Latest Update: October 2019


Assessing my learning

  • What does it mean to be mentally healthy?
  • How can we maintain our mental health?
  • What are the common mental disorders in Hong Kong?
  • What are the major difficulties faced by patients with mental illness and their carers?