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Over Half of Hong Kong Employees Experience Poor Physical and Mental Well-being

Date: 20/06/2023

Urging Government to Subsidise SMEs to Train Staff as Mental Health First Aiders

The physical and mental health of Hong Kong people has been a growing concern in recent months. It is particularly significant amongst employees when different life and work challenges impose notable impact on their work performance and overall well-being. Employee Development Service of Hong Kong Christian Service and Four Dimensions Consulting Limited launched the ‘Employee Assistance Programme’ (EAP) to provide physical and mental health services to employees. From 2011 to 2022, they conducted the 'Hong Kong Employees Physical and Mental Health Survey', interviewing 627 service users to gain an in-depth understanding of employees' overall well-being in their workplace. The survey found that 38.8% of respondents experienced 'very high work stress' and 19.5% had 'considered suicide or self-harm'.

Well-being of Hong Kong Employees Worse than the International Level

The survey used the ‘Workplace Outcome Suite’ to compare the well-being of employees in Hong Kong with those internationally. Before joining EAP, 77.8% of employees reported being ‘distracted at work’, which was about 20% higher than the international average. 49.0% felt 'unable to commit to work' and 48.4% were 'dissatisfied with life', both about 20% and 10% higher than the international average respectively. 34.8% said they were ‘afraid to go to work’, which is about 10% higher than the international average. In addition, 34.8% of employees 'took leave due to personal concern', with an average of 6.1 sick days in the past month.

EAP Improves Mental Health and Work Performance

The survey found that the Professional Personal Counselling and Consultation service provided by EAP was effective in improving employees' physical and mental health, work performance and workplace relationships. Before joining EAP, 53.8% of individuals rated their physical and mental well-being as 'poor' or 'very poor'. After receiving the EAP counselling service, almost 60% of them reported their wellbeing as 'good' or 'very good'. Of those who initially experienced 'very high work stress', 70.2% reported 'moderate' or 'low' stress after using EAP service. In addition, 93.1% of employees who had ‘considered suicide or self-harm’ before stated that they no longer had such thoughts after joining EAP. There were also significant improvements in being ‘distracted at work', 'unable to commit to work', 'dissatisfied with life', 'afraid to go to work' and 'taking leave due to personal concern'.


True story: EAP Helped Employee Deal with Work Stress and Emotional Crises

Mr CHAN (pseudonym), a 50-year-old worker in the finance field, was strained in high stress and emotional breakdown due to excessive workload. He was overburdened with long working hours and overloaded with hundreds of emails every day. He was also asked to carry the workload of other colleagues which saddened him with crying spells, insomnia, poor appetite and even contemplation of suicide. In 2022, Mr CHAN heard about the EAP provided by Four Dimensions through his company and eventually sought help. The professional counsellor provided immediate Mental Health First Aid by assessing his suicidal risk, stabilising his emotions, offering care and reassurance, as well as creating a supportive net that ultimately relieved him from his suicidality.

After about 6 months of professional counselling, Mr CHAN expressed his gratitude for the support provided by Four Dimensions and said that he had made major progress in recognising and managing his negative emotions. He gradually became aware of his psychological needs, abilities and resources, and no longer spiralled into negative emotional state. 


Improving the Problem through Government, Employers, and Employees

Based on the survey results, Four Dimensions makes the following recommendations:

1. Government subsidising SMEs to implement EAP

  • In addition to mandating employers to provide insurance for their employees, the government should encourage their participation in EAP. Financial support should be provided to small and medium-sized enterprises to provide relevant services to their employees and promote recognition in staffs’ mental health. This would contribute to the development of healthy and productive teams and help Hong Kong retain talent.

2. Employers training staff as ‘Mental Health First Aiders’ in the workplace

  • Employers should organise Mental Health First Aid training and set the ratio of Mental Health First Aiders based on job types, company size and employee characteristics. This allows early identification and support for employees experiencing mental distress. Employers should also review staffs’ working hours, workload and relationships between colleagues regularly to promote a culture of care and create a positive and mentally healthy working environment.

3. Employees equipping knowledge and ways to improve physical and mental well-being

  • Employees are encouraged to learn stress management to improve their physical and mental well-being, including the 'MNCPR' five-step approach to stress reduction. In addition, awareness and understanding of mental health should be raised by learning the 'ALGEE' of Mental Health First Aid.
Movement:do more exercisesApproach the person, assess and assist with any crisis
Nutrition:develop a proper dietListen non-judgmentally
Community:maintain social lifeGive support and information
Purpose:set goalsEncourage the person to get appropriate professional help
Relaxation:take restEncourage other supports

About Four Dimensions Consulting Limited:

Hong Kong Christian Service (HKCS) is the first provider of EAP in Hong Kong with the establishment of Employee Development Service since 1991. With a continuous expansion of services, HKCS established a subsidiary company, Four Dimensions Consulting Limited, in 2005 to offer total solutions to assist employees with work and life issues, develop strengths and potentials, increase work engagement and positivity at work, which ultimately enhance organisational excellence and sustainability. For details, please visit:  https://www.fourdimensions.org


For media enquiries, please contact:

Ms Natalie CHEUNG, General Manager, Four Dimensions Consulting Limited (Tel: 2731 6238 )

Mr Don CHENG, Corporate Communication Executive (Information) (Tel: 2731 6263)


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  • From left: Mr Nathaniel SUEN, Research Associate, Four Dimensions Consulting Limited; Dr Jackie CHAN, Research & Advocacy Officer, HKCS; Dr Klaris LEUNG, Clinical Psychologist and Case Manager, Four Dimensions Consulting Limited; Ms Sandra LAI, Senior Consultant, Four Dimensions Consulting Limited