How is Women’s Mental Health Different from Men’s Mental Health

How is Women’s Mental Health Different from Men’s Mental Health

When it comes to mental health, it’s essential to recognise that women and men may experience and express their struggles differently. Understanding these differences is crucial to providing practical support and treatment. In this article, we delve into the unique aspects of women’s mental health and how it differs from that of men.

Factors influencing women’s mental health

Women face a multitude of factors that can influence their mental well-being. One such factor is hormonal fluctuations. Throughout a woman’s life, hormonal changes occur during puberty, the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, and menopause. These fluctuations can impact mood, causing symptoms of depression, anxiety, and irritability. Additionally, hormonal imbalances, such as those experienced with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), can further exacerbate mental health issues.

Another significant factor affecting women’s mental health is societal expectations. Women are often expected to juggle multiple roles, such as motherhood, wife, and career. The pressure to excel in these areas can lead to feelings of overwhelm, stress, and even guilt. Moreover, the persistence of sexism and gender discrimination in society can contribute to women’s psychological distress. The constant battle against societal norms and gender inequality can take a toll on mental well-being.

Common mental health disorders in women

Women are more likely than men to experience certain mental health disorders. Depression, for example, is twice as prevalent in women compared to men. This disparity can be attributed to biological, hormonal, and psychosocial factors. Women also have higher rates of anxiety disorders, eating disorders, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Societal pressures, body image issues, and experiences of trauma or abuse can influence these disorders.

The impact of hormones on women’s mental health

Hormones play a significant role in women’s mental health. During puberty, the surge of hormones can contribute to mood swings and emotional instability. The menstrual cycle, too, can affect mental well-being. Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a common phenomenon that can cause mood changes, irritability, and physical discomfort. Some women may experience more severe mood symptoms, known as premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD).

Pregnancy and the postpartum period also bring hormonal changes that can affect mental health. Many women experience the “baby blues” shortly after giving birth, which is characterised by mood swings and emotional sensitivity. In some cases, this can progress to postpartum depression, a more severe and long-lasting condition that requires professional intervention. The hormonal shifts that occur during menopause can also contribute to mood disturbances and depression in women.

Unique stressors and challenges faced by women

Women face unique stressors and challenges that can impact their mental well-being. The expectation to balance multiple roles and responsibilities can lead to feelings of overwhelm and burnout. The pressure to conform to societal standards of beauty and success can result in low self-esteem and body image issues. Additionally, women are more likely to experience sexual harassment and gender-based violence, which can have profound psychological consequences.

Gender inequality and sexism also contribute to the challenges faced by women. The persistent wage gap, lack of representation in leadership positions, and societal expectations of femininity can create additional stressors. These external pressures, combined with the demands of daily life, can take a toll on women’s mental health.

Gender differences in seeking help for mental health issues

There are notable gender differences in seeking help for mental health issues. Research suggests that women are more likely than men to seek professional help and talk openly about their emotional struggles. This may be due to societal norms encouraging women to express their emotions and seek support. On the other hand, men are often socialised to be stoic and self-reliant, which can make it challenging for them to acknowledge and address their mental health needs.

These gender differences in help-seeking behaviour can have implications for treatment outcomes. Women may benefit from early intervention and access to mental health resources, while men may require targeted outreach and support to overcome barriers to seeking help. Mental health professionals must recognise these differences and tailor their approach accordingly.

Women-specific mental health treatments and therapies

Recognising the unique aspects of women’s mental health, some specific treatments and therapies can be effective in addressing their needs. For example, cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) has shown positive outcomes in treating depression and anxiety in women. CBT helps individuals identify and modify negative thought patterns and develop healthier coping strategies.

For women experiencing perinatal mental health issues, specialised treatments such as perinatal psychiatric care, support groups, and mother-baby interventions can be beneficial. These interventions aim to provide comprehensive care during pregnancy and postpartum, addressing mothers’ physical and emotional well-being.

The importance of self-care for women’s mental health

Self-care plays a vital role in promoting women’s mental health. Engaging in activities promoting relaxation and stress reduction, such as mindfulness exercises, yoga, or leisure time in nature, can help women manage their emotional well-being. Prioritising self-care is crucial for women to recharge and maintain balance.

Establishing boundaries, both in personal and professional relationships is essential for women’s mental health. Saying no when necessary, delegating tasks, and seeking support from loved ones are all crucial strategies for maintaining mental well-being. Physical health through regular exercise, a healthy diet, and adequate sleep also contribute to overall mental well-being.

Supporting women’s mental health in the workplace

The workplace can significantly impact women’s mental health. Organisations should strive to create an inclusive and supportive environment that addresses the unique needs of female employees. Implementing policies that promote work-life balance, provide flexibility, and offer mental health resources can make a significant difference.

Mentorship programs and leadership development opportunities can empower women in the workplace and help address gender disparities. Cultivating a culture of respect and equality, where women’s contributions are valued and recognised, can contribute to a positive work environment and support women’s mental well-being.

Conclusion: Promoting mental well-being for women

In conclusion, it is crucial to recognise and address the unique aspects of women’s mental health. Women face specific challenges, such as hormonal fluctuations, societal expectations, and gender discrimination, which can impact their mental well-being. Mental health professionals and support networks must know these factors and provide tailored care and support.

Promoting mental well-being for women involves addressing the social, cultural, and biological factors that influence their mental health. It requires a comprehensive approach that includes early intervention, gender-specific treatments, support for help-seeking, and fostering a supportive environment in various settings, including the workplace.

By understanding and addressing the distinct needs of women, we can work towards a society where women’s mental health is prioritised, leading to improved overall well-being and quality of life.

 
Liz McCaughey & AM Team

MsC., MoC. Member of: ACA, BACP

Further Articles like this:

Please refer to the AM articles page for Liz and the AM Team articles.

Please complete the AMindset intake form to start therapy with an AM team member. Our therapists offer a FREE 20-minute introductory session for new clients.

If you are not quite ready, please click here to subscribe to the AMindset Newsletter with articles and podcasts to learn more about your mental health and how AM can help you.

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or qualified mental health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

 

 

My Health My Right

My Health My Right

The World Health Organisation defines health not just as the absence of disease but a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being (WHO, 2023). The global burden of disease is projected to include HIV/AIDS, ischemic heart disease and depressive disorders as leading causes of death by 2030 (WTO, 2023). With this year’s theme for World Health Day being “My Health, My Right”, it is imperative that we discuss the role of we, as enlightened individuals play in taking accountability for our health and supporting our quality of life. We, at AMindset believe in both empowering our community in supporting their access to quality health services, education and information, as well as safe drinking water, clean air, good nutrition, quality housing, decent working and environmental conditions, and freedom from discrimination while also acknowledging our duty towards supporting each other on this mission. With mental health conditions including depression and anxiety on the rise and these risks closely associated with increased stress, we trust the following will empower you to make choices to claim your right to health in the choices you make daily.

Journalling:

While journalling may be seen as a “new-age” practice, we are big believers in journalling as a tool not only to provide greater clarity on the inner workings of our mind and thoughts but also on the cathartic effect of penning thoughts on paper. There have been numerous studies that have attempted to understand the favourable relationship between journalling and mental health and the results have been affirming. We are loath to take this a bit further and recommend daily (or frequent) journalling, incorporating tenets of positive psychology such as gratitude, positive aspects of one’s day, positive interactions during the day among others are powerful to support mental wellbeing and key learnings during the day. In addition to free-form expressive writing, we recommend including the following questions:

  • What is something I am grateful for today?
  • Describe someone who made a positive difference/ helped me?
  • Describe something that did not go as planned? Was there something good that came out of it?
  • What is something that I learned today?

Questions above not only reflect on the positives but also support reframing our minds to finding a positive narrative even from the setbacks (we appreciate this is not always realistic).

Community:

If the recent pandemic has taught us one thing, it is the healing power of community. Social isolation has been associated with increased anxiety, loneliness, depression. Studies have shown that it is not just social contact but a sense of belonging, striving towards a shared purpose is what fosters a sense of community and has been associated with improved mental health outcomes.

In addition to fostering a sense of belonging, when community includes service, charity, volunteering, it supports striving towards a goal that is greater than oneself. These endeavours support one’s sense of self, a belonging and striving towards something important and gives a place in this world.

In a transient place like Hong Kong, we encourage you to explore sport, hobby, wellness communities of which there are many. In addition, where time and resources permit, we encourage you to look beyond, at opportunities to volunteer and support the many not for profit organisations that champion many noble causes.

Food and Mental Health:

Cliched as it might sound, “you are what you eat”. While our fast-paced lives make eating fast-food “on the go” excusable, we encourage you to pause and consider your food choices. While the impacts of food and physical health including cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and obesity are well proven, evidence now points to the powerful effects of food and mental health. The Mediterranean diet high in olive oil, legumes, nuts, seeds, vegetables, fruit, fish and low in processed food has been evidenced with not just reducing the likelihood of developing mental health conditions, reducing anxiety and improving cognitive functioning but has also been evidenced with reversing the effects of depression.

Movement:

The benefits of movement and exercise on physical health, metabolic health in particular are well established. Good physical health after all contributes to improved physical and metabolic health. In recent years however, there has been growing evidence on the correlation between exercise and mental health, predominantly owing to the “endorphins” (wider terms for “happy hormones” including serotonin, dopamine etc) which are released during physical exercise. The benefits of these endorphins last long after the physical exercise routine, (especially if it is weight training) has ceased, thereby contributing to sustained improved mood long after the exercise routine. Stress is ubiquitous to our lifestyle. Exercise has been When undertaken in a group, fitness and movement also adds a dimension of community which is another pillar of mental wellbeing.

Sleep:

“Sleep when I am dead” may have been the rhetoric of the 1990s. However, with new information there comes a call to renewed action “Sleep to live” is our new mantra. Sleep is not only restorative, sleep is healing, we will take that a step further and say that sleep is also preventative (of physical and mental health conditions). Not only does sleep support our physical health through metabolic symbiosis, sleep also consolidates learning, serves as emotional catharsis and supports overall wellbeing. While we cannot control our night’s sleep, we can control the “inputs” that influence our sleep. Here are our top five tips:

  • Where possible, attempt to have dinner or your last meal 3-4 hours before bed time
  • Include a good quality protein at dinner which will allow you to feel fuller for longer and allow for a deeper rest with fewer disruptions due to hunger pangs
  • Aim to go to bed at the same time each night where possible
  • Avoid using screens before bed and if you cannot avoid it, use a blue light filter
  • Ideally, leave your phone outside your bedroom and use an “old school” alarm clock instead

We at AMindset, believe that we are what we repeatedly do, our habits do ultimately define our character and in the case of health, our healthy habits have the power to shape our health outcomes. “If it is to be, it is up to me”. If you or a family member or friend needs a check in, please reach out to us at office@amindset.hk. We offer a range of services include low-cost counselling to support you and your family and friends.

“It is to be, it is up to me”.

References:

Alfano, C. A., & McGlinchey, E. (2020). Editorial overview: Sleep, mental health and psychopathology. Current opinion in psychology, 34, iv–vi.
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.copsyc.2020.04.003

Haim-Litevsky, D., Komemi, R., & Lipskaya-Velikovsky, L. (2023). Sense of Belonging, Meaningful Daily Life Participation, and Well-Being: Integrated Investigation. International journal of environmental research and public health, 20(5), 4121. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph20054121

Jacka, F. N., O’Neil, A., Opie, R., Itsiopoulos, C., Cotton, S., Mohebbi, M., Castle, D., Dash, S., Mihalopoulos, C., Chatterton, M. L., Brazionis, L., Dean, O. M., Hodge, A. M., & Berk, M. (2017). A randomised controlled trial of dietary improvement for adults with major depression (the ‘SMILES’ trial). BMC medicine, 15(1), 23. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12916-017-0791-y 

Smyth, J. M., Johnson, J. A., Auer, B. J., Lehman, E., Talamo, G., & Sciamanna, C. N. (2018). Online Positive Affect Journaling in the Improvement of Mental Distress and Well-Being in General Medical Patients With Elevated Anxiety Symptoms: A Preliminary Randomized Controlled Trial. JMIR mental health, 5(4), e11290. https://doi.org/10.2196/11290 

Ventriglio, A., Sancassiani, F., Contu, M. P., Latorre, M., Di Slavatore, M., Fornaro, M., & Bhugra, D. (2020). Mediterranean Diet and its Benefits on Health and Mental Health: A Literature Review. Clinical practice and epidemiology in mental health : CP & EMH, 16(Suppl-1), 156–164. https://doi.org/10.2174/1745017902016010156 

World Health Organisation (2024), https://www.who.int/news-room/events/detail/2024/04/07/default-calendar/world-health-day-2024-my-health-my-right

 

Lisel Varley & AM Team

MsC., MoC. Member of: ACA, BACP

Please refer to the AM articles page for Elise and the AM Team articles.

Please complete the AMindset intake form to start therapy with an AM team member. Our therapists offer a FREE 20-minute introductory session for new clients.

If you are not quite ready, please click here to subscribe to the AMindset Newsletter with articles and podcasts to learn more about your mental health and how AM can help you.

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or qualified mental health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

 

 

Fostering Solid Interpersonal Relationships in Small Business Teams: Key Strategies for Success

Fostering Solid Interpersonal Relationships in Small Business Teams: Key Strategies for Success

Fostering solid interpersonal relationships within small business teams is crucial for success. These relationships enhance communication and collaboration and create a positive work environment where employees feel valued and motivated. Strong interpersonal relationships increase productivity, employee satisfaction, and overall business growth.

When team members have strong interpersonal relationships, they are more likely to trust and rely on each other, leading to effective teamwork and problem-solving. This camaraderie fosters creativity and innovation, as individuals feel comfortable sharing their ideas and insights. Strong relationships also promote open and honest communication, reducing misunderstandings and conflicts within the team.

Understanding Interpersonal Relationships in the Workplace

Interpersonal relationships in the workplace refer to the connections and interactions between team members. These relationships are built on trust, respect, and effective communication. Understanding the dynamics of interpersonal relationships is essential for small business owners and managers to cultivate a harmonious and productive work environment.

One key aspect of interpersonal relationships is emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence involves recognising and understanding one’s emotions and those of others. Small business teams benefit from members who can empathise with each other, manage conflicts, and effectively communicate their needs and concerns. Team members can build stronger interpersonal relationships and enhance collaboration by developing emotional intelligence.

Common Challenges in Fostering Strong Interpersonal Relationships in Small Business Teams

While strong interpersonal relationships are essential, small business teams often face challenges in fostering these connections. One common challenge is the lack of time for team-building activities. Small businesses usually focus on meeting deadlines and achieving goals, leaving little time for team bonding. Additionally, the remote or virtual work environment can hinder face-to-face interactions, making it harder to build relationships.

Another challenge is the presence of conflicts and disagreements within a close team, where members socialise or meet each other outside the working environment. These personal relations can result in differences in opinions and work styles, leading to conflict, and when not properly managed, they can strain personal and professional relationships. Leaders and managers must address conflicts promptly and provide a safe space for open dialogue and resolution.

Setting Boundaries in Small Business Teams

Setting clear boundaries fosters strong interpersonal relationships in small business teams. Boundaries help define expectations and responsibilities, ensuring team members understand their roles and limitations. When boundaries are established, individuals feel more comfortable expressing their needs and concerns, improving communication and collaboration.

To set boundaries effectively, small business owners and managers should clearly communicate expectations. The understanding of expectations in the workplace is especially applicable if there is a social dynamic between team members. Boundaries include establishing work hours, defining personal space, and outlining acceptable behaviour within the team. Boundaries can be maintained by promoting a culture of respect and accountability, and relationships can thrive.

Building Trust and Communication Within Small Business Teams

Trust and communication are the foundation of strong interpersonal relationships in small business teams. Trust is built over time through consistent actions and reliability. Small business owners and managers can cultivate trust by demonstrating transparency, keeping commitments, and actively listening to team members’ feedback and ideas.

Communication is also vital for building strong relationships. Small business teams should establish open lines of communication, encourage regular check-ins, and provide opportunities for team members to express their thoughts and concerns. Effective communication fosters mutual understanding, prevents misunderstandings, and promotes collaboration.

Encouraging Collaboration and Teamwork in Small Business Teams

Collaboration and teamwork are essential for fostering solid interpersonal relationships in small business teams. By encouraging collaboration, team members can leverage each other’s strengths and skills, leading to improved problem-solving and innovation. Collaboration also promotes a sense of shared purpose and accountability.

Small business owners and managers should create a supportive and inclusive work environment to encourage collaboration. This can be achieved by organising team-building activities, fostering a culture of sharing and learning, and recognising and rewarding collaborative efforts. Small business teams can build stronger relationships and achieve greater success by valuing teamwork.

Recognising and Celebrating Achievements in Small Business Teams

Recognising and celebrating achievements is vital to fostering solid interpersonal relationships in small business teams. Acknowledging and appreciating the contributions of team members boosts morale and motivation. Individuals who feel valued and recognised for their efforts are more likely to develop stronger bonds with their colleagues.

Small business owners and managers can recognise achievements by regularly providing feedback and praise, publicly acknowledging accomplishments, and offering rewards or incentives. Celebrating milestones and successes as a team further strengthens the sense of camaraderie and encourages continued collaboration.

Speaking kindly to team members and rewarding their achievements assists when conflict resolution is needed. The tone and method of speaking to team members are crucial to maintaining a solid and caring team. Nobody likes criticism, but most people will appreciate transparent and clear communication.

Strategies for Resolving Conflicts and Promoting Healthy Relationships in Small Business Teams

Conflicts are a natural part of any workplace, but addressing them promptly and effectively is essential to maintaining strong interpersonal relationships in small business teams. Small business owners and managers can implement strategies to resolve conflicts and promote healthy relationships.

One strategy is to encourage open and honest communication. Team members should feel comfortable expressing their concerns without fear of judgment or retaliation. Active listening and practising empathy can help de-escalate conflicts and find mutually beneficial solutions. Mediation or conflict resolution training may also be helpful for small business teams facing persistent conflicts.

The Role of Leadership in Fostering Strong Interpersonal Relationships in Small Business Teams

Leadership is crucial in fostering strong interpersonal relationships in small business teams. Small business owners and managers should lead by example, demonstrating the values and behaviours they expect from their team members. Effective leaders prioritise open communication, trust-building, and collaboration, creating a positive work environment where strong relationships can flourish.

Leaders should also invest in professional development opportunities for team members, such as workshops or training sessions on effective communication, emotional intelligence, and conflict resolution. Leaders empower team members to build and maintain strong interpersonal relationships by equipping them with the necessary skills.

Conclusion: The Impact of Strong Interpersonal Relationships on the Success of Small Businesses

In conclusion, fostering solid interpersonal relationships in small business teams is crucial for success. These relationships enhance communication, collaboration, and overall productivity. Small businesses can create a positive work environment where strong relationships thrive by understanding the dynamics of interpersonal relationships, setting boundaries, building trust and communication, encouraging collaboration, recognising achievements, resolving conflicts, and exhibiting effective leadership. Investing in strong interpersonal relationships contributes to small businesses’ long-term success and growth.

Liz McCaughey & AM Team

MsC., MoC. Member of: ACA, BACP

Further Articles like this:

Please refer to the AM articles page for Liz and the AM Team articles.

Please complete the AMindset intake form to start therapy with an AM team member. Our therapists offer a FREE 20-minute introductory session for new clients.

If you are not quite ready, please click here to subscribe to the AMindset Newsletter with articles and podcasts to learn more about your mental health and how AM can help you.

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or qualified mental health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

 

 

Removing the Mask

Removing the Mask

I arrived at my gym for an appointment with my trainer.  “Are you going to Lan Kwai Fong tonight?” he asked enthusiastically.  As a busy (and middle-aged) professional who’d been up since 5 am and still had several work obligations after this gym session, I figured the probability of hanging out in LKF on a school night was pretty low.  “Why on Earth would I do that?” I asked.  He responded, “Everyone’s going there at midnight to burn all their masks!  Can’t wait to see the bonfire!”.  While the thought of such a sight was pretty attractive after 945 days of mask-wearing, I immediately thought of the toxic fumes that would soon travel through central Hong Kong – fumes we could avoid breathing through a mask.  The irony was not lost on me.

I do not know if the LKF mask-burning event occurred, but the sentiment resonated.  It also prompted me to wonder how the people of Hong Kong would feel as they prepared for this change.  No doubt everyone considered what it meant for them and their loved ones.  And as I’ve been listening to friends and colleagues over the last 48 hours, I’ve come to the view that regardless of whether removing the mask mandate is “good” or ‘bad”,  it allows for personal choice, which empowers us all.

Let’s consider kids, for example.  As of Wednesday, millions of five-to-eight-year-olds will (strangely, after showing a negative RAT test to attend school in the first place) be seeing their teachers’ full faces, perhaps for the first time.  Children three years old or under do not know the world without masks.  It will be interesting to see how they interact with their friends now that they can see their whole faces.  It’s difficult enough as an adult to recognize people when they see them without a mask for the first time.  How we look at people and recognize their faces is different with masks on than with masks off.  Also, these little children have learned to read people’s emotions just by looking at their eyes.  What will it be like for them to see a full facial expression?  How will they interpret what they see? Ongoing research at places like the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN) at King’s College London links facial expression to healthy social interactions. Within a social context decoding facial expressions is an essential foundation for stable emotional relationships. It is a skill that helps to reduce anxiety.

And just as kids are not used to seeing their teachers’ full faces, the same is valid for teachers with their students.  One teacher shared a story of playing “guess the child” with her peers:  When the kids took their masks off to eat, the teachers tried to figure out who they were.  It wasn’t easy to recognize them, as the teachers had a mental image of the children’s faces, which was inaccurate.  They almost had to re-learn who Nancy, Tom, Millie, or James were, as they were unrecognizable without the masks.  Imagine the child who bounds up to her teacher with a big “HELLO!” and the teacher isn’t sure who she is.  This experience could result in children losing identity or sense of place, as the teachers they’ve become comfortable with don’t seem to know who they are anymore. How disempowering would that appear to the child that a person who is essential in their lives fails to recognize them?

And what about vulnerable people or those in hospital environments?  Most medical clinics allow their staff to choose whether or not to wear masks at work.  Patients with respiratory illness symptoms are still requested to wear masks. 

The mask mandate may have been removed, but does this mean we should no longer consider the needs of others?  A diverse city of 7.6 million people like ours does not thrive without the goodwill and tolerance of its people.  It’s worth remembering that Hong Kong people commonly wore masks when sick – well before any mandate and well before the rest of the world – out of consideration for others.  Perhaps there’s no need to burn all our masks, and we might instead choose to keep a few around for the greater good. As mentioned earlier, it is a choice, and being able to make choices is positive for our mental health.

Today, I also heard another example of two brothers – the younger one thrilled to see his friends’ faces, and the older one worried about his facial acne.   Female colleagues are talking about needing to spend money on makeup now that their whole faces are “on display” again.  Jokes about teeth whitening products selling like hotcakes and dentists being completely booked out.  For the last three years, the beauty ‘playing field’ was somewhat even, and the eyes were all that mattered.  Now our whole faces are back in the limelight. Face masks eased the anxiety of people with body dysmorphia or those anxious about their appearance. This anxiety will have to be dealt with by many people.

And another friend told me she was thrilled to see the mandate go for the simple reason that she’d be able toread lips again – a helpful skill when seeking assistance at various customer service counters around the city.  It was hard enough before trying to understand what the customer service agent was saying behind the plate glass window with tiny holes and poor quality intercom – add mask-wearing into the equation. This friend has said, “sorry, can you please repeat that?” about 17,000 times over the last three years. These are six words that she’s delighted to remove from her vocabulary.

There are so many stories about the effect of mask-wearing, but that is enough for now. Hong Kong is finally free from HAVING to wear a mask, now is the time for people to appreciate they have choices, and it is up to them what they choose to do.

Perhaps the take-home point is that we in HK must celebrate our adaptability and resilience – we kept masks on for 945 days, the most extended period of mask-wearing in the world.   Now they are no longer mandatory, and we can decide for ourselves.  I can choose to wear it or not, just as I can decide to go to Lan Kwai Fong on a Tuesday at midnight or go home to bed.  Free will and choice are empowering, and as you read this, make a choice for yourself and be empowered in the process of having that choice.

By the Team at AMindset

If you would like to speak with a counsellor about how we can support you, please contact us.

Other Articles by AMindset Counsellors:

The Mental Health Impact of Hong Kong’s Mask-Free Policy on Children, Anoush Davies

Re-entering the Outside World, Kelly Hutchison

Christmas Alone, Elise Phillipson 

Talking About Eating Disorders, Megan Chang 

The Mental Health Impact of Hong Kong’s Mask-Free Policy on Children

The Mental Health Impact of Hong Kong’s Mask-Free Policy on Children

After months of waiting, Hong Kong is now mask free from the 1st March. This is good news for the citizens of Hong Kong and children in particular, who have been living with mandatory masks for over three years. With the lifting of this policy, children can now see their friends’ faces for the first time in years—and that has both positive and negative implications on their mental health. Let’s explore how this will affect them. 

The Positive Effects of Going Mask-Free

The most obvious benefit to children being able to go mask free is the joy of seeing their classmates’ faces after such a long time. Seeing familiar faces and being able to interact with them can help boost children’s moods, build relationships, and create a sense of comfort and security in the classroom  . Additionally, going mask-free can help reduce stress levels that have likely been heightened by having to wear masks every day for over three years. Knowing they are no longer required to do so can bring an immense sense of relief to many students—especially those who may have struggled with wearing masks due to sensory issues or allergies. 

The Negative Effects of Going Mask-Free 

On the other hand, there could also be some negative effects associated with the lifting of this policy as well. For example, some students may struggle with feeling overwhelmed when faced with direct eye contact or conversations after so long without it. They may also feel anxious or self-conscious about speaking up or engaging in class if they’ve grown accustomed to hiding behind a mask for so long. In addition, kids may need extra support if they find themselves struggling with feelings of guilt or shame due to a perceived lack of effort during pandemic times compared to their peers who were able to socialize more freely while wearing masks was mandatory everywhere else but at school. 

Overall, while it’s certainly wonderful news that Hong Kong is going mask-free from now onwards and children will finally get to see their friends’ faces again after so long apart, parents and teachers need to remain cognizant of potential mental health issues related to this transition period and be prepared to provide additional support if needed. By keeping an open dialogue and modeling positive behaviors in the classroom environment, we can ensure our kids not only adjust but thrive in these new circumstances!

Anoush Davies

MSc

If you would like to speak with a counsellor about how we can support you, please contact us.